Zeno’s Paradoxes and Amelia’s First Day of School

Zeno of Elea made a series of arguments against Aristotle’s observations of motion. My favorite of his arguments is the dichotomy paradox, but today, we’re on his arrow paradox.

For an arrow to move, said Zeno, it must change positions. Since time is composed of instants, and at each instant, the arrow is not moving, motion is impossible.

It may be absurd, and Zeno may well have been the first in history to use reductio ad absurdum as an argument. Aristotle surely must have been as annoyed as when it happens to any of us in a social media argument.

Yet even philosophically, it’s relevant. As humans, cognizant of our movement through time and space, we look at the here and now and realize motion is real, and yet, we can’t necessarily quantify the absurdity of Zeno’s paradox if we look at a specific point in time.

Until, that is, your child starts at a new school in a new state in a new town.

Amelia starts at a school where the mascot is a Clipper ship. This alone is amazing to me, coming from an area of Barons, Tornados, Knights, and Comets. When we are accustomed to the bland trappings of our local high school rivalries, it’s amazing how something so banal becomes something of such consequence.

Neither Zeno nor Aristotle, in their argument, attach the significance of meaning to the observation of motion.

Amelia’s middle school is smaller than what we’re used to. 250 students. Two 7th graders, including Amelia, in Algebra I. An award-winning music teacher. Amelia may have to switch from clarinet to tenor sax. She smiled at this. The library is great. The school is lovely, set back in the woods. The cafeteria windows let the kids see the forest. On nice days, they can eat outside.

Yesterday, Amelia turned twelve. It’s all such a whirlwind. We went go-karting at the little amusement facility across from the hotel. We went to JoAnn Fabrics afterwards, although we didn’t buy anything because we really don’t have room until we occupy our house tomorrow. Amelia showed me all of the clay she wants to work with.

She’s very artsy and crafty. Leah and I probably indulge that more than we should, but we love Amelia’s creativity.

Very excited to hear about Amelia’s first day of school. One more night in a hotel room, and she gets the full spectrum of our new normal baseline.

Motion may be impossible, according to Zeno, observing any fixed point in time. Until we can halt the flow of time, though, I see a young life in motion.


Writer, soldier, programmer, father, musician, Heeb, living in the woods of Down East Maine with three ladies and a dog.

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About Brian

Brian Kresge

Brian Kresge

Writer, soldier, programmer, father, musician, Heeb, living in the woods of Down East Maine with three ladies and a dog.

About Leah

Leah Kresge

Leah Kresge

Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, Maine, special educator and former school board member, mother to Amelia and Nezzie.

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