Zeno's Paradox: The Never-Ending Pursuit of What You Want

Zeno’s Paradox: The Never-Ending Pursuit of What You Want

Zeno of Elea is famous for his paradoxes. One of which talks about how motion is impossible because it consists of someone taking infinite steps. Applied to life, it helps make sense of the never-ending pursuit of what we want.

No time? Listen to it instead

Before I start, I’d like to thank you for reading this because I’ve been far from consistent. Even after I announced a month-long gap, I failed to deliver a blog post on the promised day. In any case, here we are and let’s get this started.

I wanted to talk about something I realised in the past month: life is about where you tend to be getting instead of getting somewhere. If that sentence straight out of a mathematics book doesn’t make sense, try reading it this way: you’re never going to get there, you’ll only keep walking towards it until you get close enough, and even then, you’ll be a step short.

That’s a good thing. That means you have something to do.

Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox

Let’s talk about Zeno. Zeno of Elea was a philosopher who was hell-bent on proving motion didn’t exist. Well, it’s deeper than that, but Zeno is famous for his paradoxes. We’ll talk about one of them called the Dichotomy Paradox.

“That which is in locomotion must arrive at the halfway stage before it arrives at the goal.”

Zeno’s Paradox, recollected by Aristotle

In other words, to get the entire way, you must go halfway. However, Zeno argues that this process keeps on happening. Let’s say you’re walking towards a wall. To get to the wall, you need to get to the halfway point between you and the wall.

You need to walk to the halfway point between your new position and the wall from that point on. You see where this is going. Zeno argues that there are infinite halfway points between a person walking to a specific destination. He says in that case, getting there is impossible.

Zeno's Paradox

Mathematicians picked this problem later and solved it using the concept of limits in calculus. People in the field of metaphysics are still trying to understand this from their perspective. I feel this also applies to what we want in life and self-improvement.

The Paradox of Effortlessness

If you want to get to a state of effortlessness in life, you need to put in the effort to walk halfway through to it. Then, another tiny half, and another, and another. The thing is, you’ll never get there. However, from the outsider’s perspective, you’ll get closer and closer to it.

An effortless writer has spent so many years putting in the effort that people are baffled when they compose a poem or verse on the spot. An effortless musician can pick up a melody and play it immediately, much to everyone’s surprise. However, for them, they would still practice every day. A person who effortlessly makes wealth has spent years of efforts on the same thing. They’ve had years of losses, and to them, the journey will be never-ending.

For example, my own thing is the pursuit of balance. I try my best to keep a balanced life. When I feel I’ve achieved it, I realise I have another half to walk, and so on and on. I know I’ll keep going towards that wall of balance. I also know most people in my life will keep asking me, “how do you manage so much together?” and I know I’ll always answer with: you have no idea.

The Nudge

Just like Atlanta in Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox, everyone’s trying to get somewhere. To arrive there, they must reach halfway. From that point, they have another half of half to cover and so on. There’s an infinite number of halfways to cover before the destination is reached. That’s a good thing. That means you have something to do. Life is never about arriving; it’s about getting close enough with scope of yet another step.

Original Featured Photo by Ricardo Rocha on Unsplash.

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