Contrast: the sinews of life

Article first published as Contrast: The Sinews of Life on Technorati.

The sun was out briefly, but not nearly out enough to warm the ground beneath my feet.  As I walked over the

concrete and tar that leads from my door to the street, I was aware that warming myself would have to come

from entirely inside, unlike just a few months ago when I could shower and walk to the deck wrapped in a turkish

towel and simply smile at the sun and wait for it to dry me; now the power & the energy would have to come from me

to stay warm.

In New England we are blessed with the seasons–four of them to separate the deep cold blues from the wide warm orange and

yellows.  The in-between seasons act as a kind of dress rehearsal for summer and winter, the two king pins of our nor-east climate.

But for many of us who grew here, or even for some of us who were transported here, spring and autumn can hold not

only great promise, but they can in themselves become a favorite time of the year.

The fickle new englander wakes to each season with a sense of being with a new lover—ahhhhh, we say, this is my favorite season.

October has gone and when October goes and the harvest moon shines it’s fabulous face down on earth, we must be a certain

kind of sad.  The kind of sad that blends with nostalgia and form memories that many us smile just before we remember that

that is a time gone by and that what is left of it must be savored as a cherished gift that eventually wore it self out from

over use.  It is not as if the memory ever really dies, it is rather that it sustains a different part of us that the part of us

that live in the moment of autumn…

Summer had a spring in it step and a wild abandon in its mornings.  We had all the time in the world to warm ourselves from

early in the morning to late into the summer nights.  The memory dances within our minds like sun drops dance on a

summer shore.  The mona lisa like smile erupts into a permanent reminder that keeping a subtle smile on our faces helps us

and other around us to stay connected to the most important aspect of who we are–our deeper instincts rather than our

more familiar egoic impulses.

Autumn in New England slowly gives way to the impermanence that without our well-being smile we dread.  The very

idea of our impermanence can lock away our instincts as surely as can an addiction.  As creatures of impermanence we have

a kindred spirit in the universe.  Our ocean is some several million years old and has a life cycle that will probably last as

much as several hundred-thousand more years before the sun burns it up and evaporates it into a cloud of steam.  Even the

ocean my original constant factor has a cycle of life that had a beginning, has a middle and will have an end.

That does not stop the ocean from being all it can be today any more than impermanence should stop our own creative side

from manifesting.  Why not live life to the fullest even as we know that it will end some day.  Recently, I heard a person talking

about getting a dog.  He said, “I would love to get a dog, I love dogs, I love the loyalty and the non-judgemental love they show; but

I would never get one because it would most likely die right in the middle of loving it.”

That is a sad solution.  And it is not what the great men and women of wisdom preach.  They preach that impermanence ought

to be in our consciousness, not so that we can give up and say–“hell with all of this we are only going to die anyway.”  No, wisdom

teaches us impermanence because it can cause us to want to savor and enjoy the moments we have of vitality with a gusto and

a gratitude that is only possible when we understand the importance of contrast.  To the extent of my sorrow so to the extent of my joy,

is a line form a great poet of wisdom, Kahill Gibran.  This line from one of his essays is perhaps one of the most remembered phrases

of all time because it speaks to the most profound aspect of life–the contrast that is necessary to maintain itself.  Darkness to light, warm to cold, red to blue, white to black, sleep to wakening, life to death–we know what we know because we are capable of understand its contrast.

As  practitioner of self-help, I am reminded daily that contrast and tension are the sinew of our tendons.  Muscle and bone pull and push our bodies around like our egos and our instincts push our mind around and somewhere in between all this contract we live our lives, pray for love, smile on joy and cry with sorrow as we march inevitably toward death holding hands with wisdom & gratitude.

Dr. A. L. Dussault, Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis


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