The Inescapable Paradox of Being Human

Food for Thought

Define love in your head, and you’ll have a transactional relationship, even if all the criteria are satisfied. Compatible, comfortable, convenient, secure—a perfect roommate, like talking and sleeping with yourself. You can trust and depend on each other because your behavior makes sense. Calm, civilized, and predictable. Even your friends and families nod in approval.

Follow your heart, and you’ll fall in love uncontrollably with an unlikely suitor. You’ll feel whole and complete, as if you’re back in your mother’s womb. You no longer care about being a responsible member of society. A wedding is the last thing on your mind. No validation is necessary. You want to unplug and live in a world of two. Eventually, it ends in tragedy, as the reality principle knocks on your door.

Compose music only with your head, and as sophisticated as it might be, it will feel like it belongs to someone else, to a game that exists with or without you. Compose music only with your heart, and you’ll get a self-indulgent piece that feels great to play over and over but is just annoying to your next-door neighbor.

A sore loser turns the chessboard upside down to express his feelings because the game is mechanical, a world governed by rules and logic. To win, he has to tame his heart, but it will eventually revolt.

What is required to be responsible citizens cannot be reconciled with the irrational animals we are. A perfectly responsible citizen would be a robot that faithfully behaves as coded, wiping out all idiosyncrasies, clones of one person filling the whole world.

On one end of the spectrum stands a civilized self, and an irrational self on the other. Try as you may, the contradictions between the two cannot be reconciled. Regardless of where you stand, you cannot escape them. Even if you stand in the middle, there is no peace or harmony. It will be like having lived in two countries and feeling frustrated that you cannot cherry-pick the parts you like.

All you can do is be at peace with the contradictions.