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The Debutant at the Paradox Ball

Random relationship musing by Romi (2011)

Inner exploration and interpersonal relationship: Symbiosis or the ultimate paradox?

One might feel the need to escape into the depths of his or her inner process, and within those dark folds of self-speculation, are infinite threads of relational longing. Those threads are cast out like thin and sticky strands, each one longing to anchor to something; so that the soul, once separated from Source, Other, God (insert prolific synonym here), can be healed again. Albeit delicious in its complexity, diving into a solitary abyss of self-discovery can be a fleeting journey.  Some fortunate individuals discover that through interpersonal exchange, they are capable of bringing light to the dark cavernous places within the self. So why is relationship so hard?

Maya is a venerated debutant at the paradox ball. A skilled dancer, she glides between conscious escapism and radical interpersonal exploration. “Is escapism really that bad if it’s thoughtful? And perhaps my quest for growth through union is also an escape?” she thought to herself with a big sigh.

Maya is a debutant, not a Buddha, and her explorations are frequently fueled by large swells of avoidance. The paradoxically-inclined debutant seeks a black and white answer to a technicolor question.  Her cerebral cortex is skilled at constructing a checkerboard-lined psyche.  She longs for the simpler life at times, although deep down she knows that would be boring.  For just one linear moment, she ponders black and white squares, placed on top of each other in a most dainty fashion. “It would be so easy that way!” she thought.

Maya flashed back to her childhood dance instructor, Jeanne. Jeanne was a bitter, powerful woman, weathered by years of hard knocks, split leaps, and a succession of failed relationships. But damn, did Jeanne know how to dance. She would say things like:


        “No, not like that….”

        “Let go!”

        “Stop trying so hard and feel!”

        “You can’t put choreography in a box, dance outside the lines!”

Thinking back to her dysfunctional dance instructor, Maya had a revelation. “Why not apply what I learned in Jazz class to my love life?” she thought excitedly. If we are able to acknowledge pain as part of our development, and dance outside the lines, interpersonal experience becomes more colorful and less black and white. Love exists in the presence of pain and love is the most powerful force of all. Love resembles chutes and ladders and pain resembles a checkerboard, and everybody knows that chutes and ladders rule.

The debutant at the paradox ball used to think that interpersonal challenges implied a relationship was destined to fail. Her sensitive New Age boyfriend told her she fit the role of “Tragic Romantic” on the Enneagram wheel. She actually liked the sound of that, but denied it at the same time.  Maya wanted to hold on to her teenage belief that right relationship was like a juicy peach covered in frosting.  And where there was no fruit, only two things resided: a lot of avoidance and a black and a white checkerboard.

Although endearingly deluded at times, Maya knows that there are few people on this earth who don’t experience hurdles while playing their heart’s beautifully complex board game. She also knows it is very possible she will not pass go and collect $100. It is also possible she will live on Park Place and climb ladders. The only thing she knows for sure is that the actual love part is easy; it is the rain gliding over that proverbial peach.

It may often feel necessary to dive in alone, because essentially, we are all alone.  But if that was entirely true, beautiful folk singers like Joules Graves would not sing songs about the “fine line between being Alone and All One”.  Or Unity, although drenched in inexorable political mumbo-jumbo, would not have been the democratic party’s winning slogan in the 2008 election. The slogan was actually Change to be precise, but it was unity woven into a national desire for change that got Obama into the White house.

For many of us, black and white squares appear medieval and antiquated. They are not the symbolic representatives we are looking for in terms of radical self-inquiry and spicy, interpersonal growth. Green and purple slides are ebullient and sensuous, and ladders are Rajasic transportation devices. May Maya help us remember that by climbing ladders and sliding down chutes, we are acting as significant cosmic game pieces, and the kind of interpersonal epiphanies we seek are brightly colored.

My favorite bumper sticker says, “Creativity is revolutionary, express yourself”.  If this bumper sticker had a inanimate romantic counterpart, it might say, “Relationship is the ultimate tool for self-discovery, dive in”.

December, 2011



  1. beautiful Romi. Someone recently told me, like Maya, I am the same on the Eeanogram. Oh the bliss and torture of believing that love can be light!!! But for you, my darling, I will pass go, I believe we can collect 200$, and still build a mansion retreat center.

    (hopefully with love by our sides)

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