No. 61


I have imaginary conversations in my head. I know. That sounds strange. But it’s the way I work through issues. Sometimes I converse with myself, sometimes with other people. I create scenarios to see how they play out then change elements to find out how that might affect the results.

Last week, I found myself in such a fictitious conversation, one in which I was asked a question. Were it really asked of me, I realized, my answer would be both yes and no. Not a “yes” followed by a “no” (or vice versa) as if I couldn’t make up my mind, as if my first answer illuminated what I really wanted while the second one was what I thought I should want. But both at the same time.

Other words wouldn’t suffice. “Maybe” made it sound as if I had decided; the indifferent “meh” would fail to communicate the conviction and passion my answer required.

Then I realized what the problem was: I needed a new word.

A word that means both yes and no. A word that embodies contradiction.

I thought about words from other languages. “Aloha” means “hello” and “goodbye”, though the situation in which it is used usually makes the meaning clear. There are oxymorons like “deafening silence” or “jumbo shrimp” but people understand those. Paradoxes like “this statement is false” can make people uncomfortable. Real contradictions are difficult to hold in our minds. If told to imagine a dark room that’s filled with light, you’re more likely to make the walls and furniture black and turn on a light than hold lightness and darkness on top of each other.

Maybe contradictions were never meant to be visual. Perhaps the only place they can live is in our emotions. But how easy is that? Try it: Imagine a person you intensely dislike. Maybe they make you angry. Maybe “hate” is a better word for what you feel than “dislike.” Now, find space for compassion, for understanding, for love for that person. Impossible? Uncomfortable?

Something fantastic happens in those moments where you exist in contradiction. The discomfort becomes expansion.

Yes and no…I’m still searching for that word. I wouldn’t be surprised if what I’m seeking is itself a contradiction: a word that can only be spoken with silence. Now that would be nonsense that makes sense.

(I think I just tumbled down the rabbit hole.)

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

5 thoughts on “Contradiction

  1. I think I fell with you down the rabbit hole. Perhaps the word you are looking for is simply, “Alice.” But you have given me much to ponder and discuss with myself today.

  2. I think you’re on to something when you say that such contradictions can only exist in our emotions. That makes total sense to me. I feel like my mind is just a bottle of contradicting emotions. Or perhaps it’s my whole body that’s the bottle, which makes even more sense when you think about how emotions can affect your entire being.

  3. Ooohh, thought-provoking and mind-blowing. I bet the French have just the word you’re looking for – they’re all romantic and contradictory – they’ve gotta have a word for it.

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