The age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first is a little like a Zen koan– a riddle designed, not to be solved, but to show the failing of logic where greater understanding, epiphany, or enlightenment are concerned.
Likewise, the chicken/egg question was never meant to be answered definitively. Rather, it’s meant to stretch our minds; to show us that we can’t always rely on our eyes and brains to tell us what’s true. And, like the koan riddle, the mere act of pondering the origins of the chicken and the egg allows us to open to the possibility that mystery, magic, miracles (and not a little silliness) are deeply integrated into our world.
In my practice of merging Mindfulness and Magic into the every day, I bump up against curious riddles all the time. Most of them are people– like myself– who are complex, interesting, and trying to live their lives in the best way they can.
I’ve noticed that many people tend to gravitate toward either a more practical way of doing things or a more creative way of doing things– you might call it a right-brain/left-brain thing. For some people, figuring out this part of themselves is a “no-brainer”. That’s never really been the case for me.
Personally, I’ve spent much of my life trying to solve the riddle of how these two strong, seemingly separate parts of my own personality can live in the same body at the same time. On the one hand, I’m naturally curious, sensitive, artistic, empathic, and creative. On the other hand, I love logic, reason, knowledge, and drawing up a good, detailed plan. These two parts of myself haven’t always been at peace with each other.
To further complicate this riddle, I’ve had an acute awareness since childhood of people who seem to have drifted, perhaps, too far to one side or the other. I always felt frustrated by people who seemed too logic-minded, inflexible, critical, rigid, and unable to lose themselves in imagination or to appreciate creative pursuits. But I was equally frustrated by those who seemed too flakey, flimsy, insubstantial, and unable to create anything lasting (including, it seemed, their own persona) for lack of structure.
These days I find myself more curious than frustrated, and more interested in how balance plays a role in all of this. I also realize that this is a dance that everyone, to some degree, must learn in order to live fully and to create something of lasting value.
Years of learning this delicate dance myself have helped me to discover that I feel most whole, most empowered, and most fulfilled when these two sides of myself find a harmonious way of interacting– when they weave themselves together to create something as beautiful and unique as it is sturdy and practical.
Being more mindful has actually allowed me to find more of a sense of magic in everyday, ordinary moments. At the same time, being more creative and seeking the magic in the mundane are practices that bring me, almost effortlessly, to a place of mindfulness.
Mindfulness and Magic, I’ve learned, exist to have a symbiotic relationship–a way of enhancing the benefits of each– through the human experience. When we learn how to create our own unique potion of these two ingredients, then we can really begin to live a rich and fulfilling life.
So, what is the answer to the riddle, Which came first: Mindfulness or Magic?
While there can never be a decisive answer to the riddle, my guess would be that the great sages that came before us– the mystics, the prophets, the great thinkers, artists, and leaders to whom we look for inspiration– all found their unique balancing point, a kind of personal alchemy, that allowed them to interweave and dance with both of these gifts at the same time and to live at once with a sense of total presence and absolute wonder.
Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts and replies in the comments below. – xo