She who wants to have right without wrong,Order without disorder,Does not understand the principlesOf heaven and earth.She does not know howThings hang together.

—Chuang Tzu, fourth century B.C.


Chapter 5Change, Stability, and Renewal: The Paradoxes of Self-Organizing Systems

One day when a child, I stood beneath a swing frame that towered above me. Another child, older than me, told me of the time a girl had swung and swung until, finally, she looped over the top. I listened in silent awe. She had done what we only dreamed of doing, swung so uncontrollably high that finally not even gravity could hold her.

I think of this apocryphal story as I sit now in a small playground, watching my youngest son run from one activity to another. He has ...

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