Dave Brisbin | 6.10.18
My wife tells me she keeps seeing the number 11:11 everywhere. I start seeing 11:11 as well. She does some research and finds that seeing repeating numbers is a “thing,” a phenomenon sometimes called “angel numbers,” with an intricate system of meaning based on numerological values. But since any actual meaning can’t be verified or falsified, it’s all easy to dismiss, even mock as mere coincidence or selective perception—as it probably is, factually. But seeing the numbers has become a touch point for me and my wife, a running connection between us, a reminder of a greater unseen world, a source of playful attention and smiles, a call to prayer and a return to center. Seeing, being aware of these numbers has become full of meaning for me and my wife—it’s become a middle way, a third way through the details of life. A business coach has me read a book giving permission to be completely obsessed with business success, which appears to stand in complete contradiction to the contemplative principles I’ve studied for decades, calling us to a quiet center and a detachment from outcome. 

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And though it would be easy—and comforting—for me to dismiss, even mock that celebration of “obsession” so that I didn’t have to stretch to consider it, I’m thinking there is a third, middle way between these two poles, any two poles that life presents. Jesus tells us the last shall be first, to take the seat at the foot of the table, and yet his life was radical and extreme and his family thought he was crazily obsessed when he began his ministry. Where we think we may have to choose between being an obsessive warrior and a happy contemplative, maybe our tradition is really showing us the middle way of the happy warrior.

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