Thinking Outside The Binary



Experience a moment. Now experience another one. Could you tell the difference between the two? My guess is that unless we are in motion, say, plummeting, careening, or catapulting from one stage of life to another, moments are indistinguishable. Even when we are in motion, moment to moment, the differences can be imperceptible, and we find ourselves needing to qualify moments to help us make sense of them. For instance, moments agonize, empower, frustrate, overwhelm, and energize, often simultaneously.

Said another way, we categorize moments as one thing or another in order to form a response to what is happening in the world around us. Sometimes the response is appropriate, e.g. raining outside, take an umbrella. Sometimes the response is inappropriate, e.g. miserable inside, take it out on everyone with whom you come into contact. Moments which we decide must never be forgotten have the power to change the future. At some point, it doesn’t matter what we could have done, only what we do next.

People, those we know and those we don’t, also get categorized. People are vulgar or silent, friendly or hostile, jerks or doormats. They make us angry or happy. They cause harm or give comfort. We are victor or victim, slayer or survivor, discoverer or destroyer, often sequentially, but we are also creators and stewards.

Places, too, are categorized as peaceful or volatile, wealthy or impoverished, harsh or welcoming. Cardinal directions lay it out for us – North or South, East or West – so that we don’t always realize when we’ve crossed the imaginary boundaries created to distinguish where we are from where we are going.

Moments, people, and places can be perceived as good or bad, but the good and the bad also have the power to inspire, cultivate, challenge, and enrich us beyond measure. We only have to decide that life is not an either or proposition. Cliché? Perhaps. But what if it is something more?



18 thoughts on “Thinking Outside The Binary

    1. I feel a bit like a stranger in a strange land showing up here again after all these months. The funny thing is, that feeling seems to be with me no matter where I show up these days.

  1. Hey! We’ve missed you. Welcome back, even if just for a day. I was reading recently about memory, and how we don’t actually remember events, but rather the ‘components’ that make up events. As if memory storage is kind of modular. If that’s right, though, then it makes sense that we generalise and box everything up. Reality, however, is probably a lot more fluid than our perception of it. 🙂

    1. I think you are on to something there. I like the idea of “modular memory.” It gives us the ability to change out what limits us to make room for something more. What a concept. We can exchange a narrow point of view for a broader one. The big picture has a lot of moving parts, doesn’t it?

  2. What a wonderful post. Great to see you, Honie. I like the new blog look. I think we do tend to categorize things to make sense of the chaos and because we can, but often nothing belongs in a category. At least that’s what I think.

  3. I was watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean three evenings ago and had this very real sense that motion was occurring, and yet, I could not feel it, would in fact never imagine it was happening if some very smart people hadn’t shared their knowledge of the universe with the rest of us eons ago. All I know is, one moment the sun was hovering above the horizon, and the next, it was below the horizon. Invisible, extinct, and I was more aware of the passage of time in those few brief seconds than at any other point in recent memory.

    1. Those moments imprint us with a knowledge of something larger than ourselves. I like that you said “extinct,” seeming that particular moment would never come again.

        1. “Time, flowing like a river. Time, beckoning me. Who knows when we shall meet again, if ever…” I don’t know why that song came into my head. It’s been too long, Mr. Petruska. 🙂

    1. I suppose it takes years of experience to discover there are more than two sides to every story. Thanks, Allan. Today is the first day in months that I could choose to do whatever I wanted all day long.

  4. It is all to easy to label and categorize things, isn’t it? I suppose that’s what keeps order in our world. But sometimes that order needs to be shaken up. I admire those outside-the-box thinkers who do just that.

    1. Yes it is. Something that has surprised me over the last few months is how many people claim to be open-minded and accepting until their own beliefs are challenged. In a nice way, of course. : )

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