I remember a few things from seventh grade. It was there that Mrs. Norton, my English teacher, made me fall in love with literature and the power of language. Almost thirty years later, I still hear her words:
- “A lot” is two words, not one.
- People are hanged, pictures are hung.
- Judgment does not have an “e” in the middle.
- It’s theater not thee-ate-er.
- Salmon is pronounced sammon, not sal-mon.
- Whom is the object of the preposition
- And finally, I remember most vividly, she introduced me to Greek Mythology
In The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus spends some time as a captive on an island with cyclopes (Yes, I had to look up the plural for cyclops.) When Odysseus and his men arrive at the island of the giants they are befriended by one named Polyphemus, who eventually turns on them, traps them in his cave, and then begins to eat them one by one at mealtime. During one of the evenings, Odysseus and he are talking and Polyphemus asks him his name. Odysseus replies, “Nobody, Nobody is my name.” On the following night, Odysseus drives a stake into the eye of Polyphemus and eventually escapes with his remaining men strapped to the bottom of sheep. As the monster screams for help his friends come and ask him who has done this to him. “Nobody is killing me,” he screams. So they return home confused and disinterested. Odysseus is able to escape and eventually make it back to his bride Penelope.
A paradox is something that seems to be contradictory in nature, but is in fact true.
Not to be confused with the comedienne Pete Holmes’s “Incredulous Statements” in which he states a basic word several times, peaks your attention to its misplacement, and then reveals his problem with that word.
For instance, Unicorn.
Really, uni…corn? The animal has one horn. Was it really that difficult to say unihorn?
I live a paradox at times. A life of contradiction, but is in fact true. My life is beyond blessed. I have three beautiful and healthy children. I get to do what I believe I am designed to do and actually get paid for it. Enough money to put me in the top 1% of wage earners in the world. I have always and still have a family that supports me in every way.
But there is a dissonance on the inside of me. Things aren’t all as they should be. To live in a paradox is an odd place to live. Where things are as good and as bad as they can be, at the same time. Dickens said, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.” I live there. I’m watching my children grow from amazing kids into amazing young people. I’m watching my wife just grow older. It’s weird to feel blessed and cursed at the same time. To feel joy and pain. To teeter like an egg on the ridge of happiness and sadness. To watch my kids begin to experiment with their personalities as they shape their dreams and futures and then to feel trapped from mine. To feel in the will of God and forsaken by Him at the same time. If things were all black I could bounce and smile and live and thrive. And if things were all white I could curse and cry and mope and die. But things aren’t black or white, my life is grey. These life contradictions and paradoxes are grey. Life is a paradox and it’s an odd place to live. Not quite the adventure that I anticipated, but an adventure nonetheless in which Nobody is taking care of us.