“Sometimes a thing and the opposite of a thing are true at the same time.” ― Wynton Marsalis

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See the Beauty: Bittersweet

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Lindsay’s a six, and I’m a seven.

What’s that mean? It’s Enneagram speak for our respective types. She best associates with #6 — the committed, security-oriented engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious type — and I best associate with #7 — the busy, fun-loving, spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered type.

Practically speaking, I’m more likely to come up with new ideas and create excitement around them, while Lindsay’s able to break down that vision into logical and tactical steps. I can (sometimes) lift Lindsay’s energy and spirits through amusement. She keeps me grounded, helps me stay in touch with reality, and shows me what’s most likely possible.

And it’s through this counterbalance where I first began to truly understand and experience the meaning of bittersweet, or as Quinn calls it, of sappiness — where sadness and happiness share the same time and space.

Much of my life has not lived in this tension.

When presented with devastating news, it’s always been an opportunity to find the silver lining. When Lindsay shares her anxieties and apprehensions, it’s time to conjure up all the courageous antidotes to fear — whether she was looking for my suggestions or not. When contemplating a bold, new adventure, it’s best to bring a strong sense of optimism and a low fear of failure — ignoring the potential of pipedreams along the way.

But Lindsay has taught me that two paradoxical emotions can coexist. That one does not need to replace the other.

That you can be sad to say goodbye to people and places, while also impatiently counting down the days for the next chapter to begin. That you can be both fearful of the decisions you’ve made and supremely confident that you’re heading in the right direction. That wonderful and woeful moments can be one experience.

And slowly I’m learning to embrace the difficulty of life and accept a world that isn’t always as awesome as I imagine. And I’m beginning to see beauty in the messy mixture of life — a concoction that makes the whole that much more colorful, contrasted, and complete in the end.

Richard Rohr describes this bright sadness in this way:  “It’s the strangest combination of being able to hold deep sadness and deep contentment at the very same time. . . . Opposites do not contradict one another. In fact, they complement and deepen one another.”

And it’s in this both/and state where I’m trying to remain.

 

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