It’s been a whirlwind of a month, and I absolutely cannot believe that tomorrow marks the beginning of the last month of summer. Incredible. In the midst of visits home, music festivals, road trips, weddings, and joyful time with friends new and old, I frequently have found myself stumbling across the age old tension between thinking and doing, both in personal practice and in overheard conversations and discovered readings.
A balanced life of action and contemplation is both a virtually impossible achievement and one of the most compelling concepts in modern and ancient philosophy. It’s the chicken and the egg, really- do we contemplate our actions or do we act out of contemplation? Nearly every intellectual has something to say on the matter, often taking a side, however inadvertently.
“That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.” – Edgar Allan Poe
“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.” -Chamfort
The trouble is (if one can call it that), I find immense truth in both of these statements. Deep joy comes from contemplating life, the universe, and its many inhabitants, but if I didn’t admit to the deep anguish I’ve driven myself to by allowing a moment to tumble around in my brain for hours/days/weeks, I would be a liar most foul.
We must have both, doing and thinking. Acting and contemplating. What balance of the two gives you peace?