Sunday, February 28, 2010

Braving Conflict

F.Scott Fitzgerald declared that the test of first rate intelligence is being able to hold two contrary ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

Having read that heroism can be redefined for our age as the ability to tolerate paradox, to embrace seemingly opposite forces without rejecting on or the other just for the sheer relief of it and to understand that life is game played between two paradoxical goalposts.Winning is good and so is losing, courage and fear.One does not cancel out the other. Both are true. They may sit on the opposite sides of the table but beneath it their legs are entwined.

A similar heroic quality of intelligence is required in the face of a calling, which flings often opposing energies into our lives. One part of us wants to go on and the other wants to hide. This must have been Joannie Rochelle's truth as last week upon hearing the news of her mother, best friend and team mate passing away.

One part of Joannie must have wanted to continue with her calling to skate in the Olympics while the other wanted to run like hell.The opposing forces occupy a space, like an ecotone, a transition ZONE between two parts of us (two communities) like forest and grassland or river and desert. They compete. They also exchange. They swap information.  Ecotones have tremendous biological diversity and resilience.Throughout this entire week Joannie Rochelle displayed tremedous courage and resilience.

Psychologist Robert Johnson speaks of the ground between conflicting forces as a holy place. The struggle to hold paradox is ultimately a religious experience (Zone) in the sense that the re-ligare means to re-join, to bind together, opposites, to restore them to each other. Heresy, he says is giving domination to one principle over others. "When the unstoppable bullet hits the impenetrable wall" he writes in his book Transformation, "we find the religious experience. It is preciously here that one will grow. Conflict to paradox to revelation: This is the divine progression."

Tonight Joannie Rochelle carries the Canadian flag for the closing of the 2010 Olympics. Tonight one door closes for Joannie and another opens.Without a doubt Joannie is being transformed. Job well done Joannie and life's work well done Theresa ... may you rest in peace.

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