Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Yin to my Yang

(As always, something to listen to while you read: This is Band of Horses' song "No One's Gonna to Love You")

A month or two ago, I began a quest to become a blatent optimist - someone who knowingly focuses on the good in life and tries to make the choice to be happy. 

Never before have I had such a hard time with this goal.  There are things, like the death of a sweet innocent, that shake you to your very core.  How can there ever be a bright side to this?  How can any living being hear this story and not feel a wave of sadness?

There are people who turn to God for answers here.  There are people who turn to St. Jack Daniels.  There are people who would go off the deep end and end up on top of a clock tower in Texas. There are some who would spend days sobbing in the bathtub listening to the same song over and over again. There is no "right way" to grieve, though - there are certainly ways that are more harmful than others, but there is no GPS for the highway of grief you must drive down. Sometimes it's just necessary to go find an isolated place to cry and scream and shake your fist at the sky.

My forays into studies of various religions while in college led me to read into Chinese philosophies of Zen Buddhism and Hinduism, and I have long identified with the Buddhist concepts of the Yin and Yang, Hindu concepts of of Brahman and the belief that we are all connected through cycles of creation and destruction.  My goal to focus on the good in life - on the happiness that children provide, on the beauty in the world, on the creation of things instead of the destruction - can thus be seen as determination to dwell on only one half of the spectrum of life.  No matter how much I want to cling to the Yang of life - the brightness, activeness, upward, strong and expanding processes of living - the Yin will always find a way into my life to remind me that dark, still, weak, downward tendencies exist and have just as big a part in shaping our world.  

Yin and Yang do no represent good and evil, for in Zen Buddhism everything is interconnected and has different levels of opposing forces at work within it, but there is no ultimate decider who says "This is considered good, this is bad" because the two things are dependent on each other for existence. The internet has yielded a great analogy for me to use here: "Dropping a stone in a calm pool of water will simultaneously raise waves and lower troughs between them, and this alternation of high and low points in the water will radiate outward until the movement dissipates and the pool is calm once more. Yin–yang, thus, are always opposite and equal qualities."

The death of my nephew is certainly causing huge ripples in the lives of everyone around our family.  We ride waves of sadness as we try to focus on the good still left around us - the three girls, the love and support of friends, family, and even strangers from the furthest reaches of the internet who want to give us virtual hugs with their kind words and donations for the family.  But like it or not, death is a part of life and some of us are only destined to live for a short time and it is the effect that these little lives have on the people that they leave behind that lives on.

I now move forward with a new goal: to help bring more Yang to my brother and his family to help balance the horrible pile of Yin that got dumped on them this Saturday morning. There will never be a way to make this right and good, but someday there will be a balance of emotions found and the sadness will no longer be cripplingly all-encompassing.  Someday there will be a way to achieve the Zen-like peace of a family that has weathered so much sadness. 

I know I can't wait for that day.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Abby. Though you're far away your way with words brings me much comfort.