Language Lens

A blog about life, discovery and culture through the lens of language and linguistics.

Tale of a Walking Contradiction

We are all living in contradiction, or was it that we are all contradictory?  This is the English translation of a Spanish phrase I heard this week (Todos vivimos en una contradicción o todos somos contradictorios.)  The words strangely intrigued me, and I was determined to find the English equivalent.  Was it any of the following by chance?

  • To be torn
  • The grass is always greener on the other side
  • To always want what you can’t have
  • To always be wanting more

It seems that this choice for words doesn’t mean any of them, but it’s related to all of them at the same time.  It has to do with our personal desires and how we learn what they are by perhaps living contradictory to ourselves at times in this journey we call life.  It’s about saying one thing and doing another, and it’s about the ironies of life, the ironies of who we are perhaps, like treasuring solitude and yet not wanting to be alone.  Turns out there is an English phrase similar: to be a “walking contradiction.”  Kris Kristofferson said it well:

  • He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.  Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home. 

And yet the words are still hard to grasp… turns out I’m not the only one who thinks so.  A Yahoo forum included text from a guy describing something his ex-girlfriend always said to him, that he was a walking contradiction.

  • The phrase seems simple enough, but when you’re looking at your life you can’t piece it together.  Did she mean that I mean one thing and say another, etc.?  

Being an environmentalist and yet wasting water; staying in a relationship with someone of qualities that you say you don’t like or want; being brave in your actions and yet not believing in yourself; or living a life different than the one you imagined and constantly thinking of the other.

These are all examples people gave me, and yet it’s still hard to grasp honestly as I’m caught up on the word contradiction.  Could this be an example of seeing the world a certain way, or not being able to, because of our interpretation of words?  I think it could be, but it’s also an example when another language speaks to us more than our own, or when it sparks something in our subconscious. For example, if contradiction is a way of saying that you are living the opposite of what you truly desire, then I don’t want to contradict myself…

http://pinterest.com/pin/250653535482103376/

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One thought on “Tale of a Walking Contradiction

  1. Incredible speech about contradiction and our own duality, nearly a year after writing this original post: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/05/joss-whedon-commencement-speech-transcript-2013-wesleyan

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