contradictions

Balancing Act

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Major intersection in Beijing, after a snowfall

I still think about China sometimes… the friends I made there, what living in Beijing is like… how they can be so happy in such a crowded, busy place! How they can find time to think or have any serenity! They do it, though… not sure if I could!

Life is such a balancing act, isn’t it? I need enough sleep, but not too much. Enough food, but not too much. I definitely need more exercise, and I don’t think I’m in danger of getting too much, but some people are! A little caffeine is great, but some days, coffee makes me jittery. A little sugar is okay… some vitamins… enough free time, enough work…

What about my mental state? I’ve realized that it’s okay if I’m not happy all the time, but I wouldn’t want to be down and out very often either. A person has to think about money sometimes, but if you start to obsess, that’s going to skew your perspective. I like to be positive, but also a bit skeptical of what I hear — it’s easy to go too far and end up a nervous basket case (which sounds so much better than “paranoid freak,” don’t you think?). I don’t even believe the news on TV, because I think it’s usually over-summarized and often has a slant to it. Finding the balance between taking some things seriously and others with a grain of salt is tricky.

Life naturally has good days and bad, happy and sad, easy and hard, and if it didn’t, it would be like living in a monotone world. I think we all naturally need these contrasts; if you’re dissatisfied with your life, perhaps you have too much of something?
You could be stressed because of too much instability, or bored from too much security. It’s good to avoid certain extremes:

Too much instability Too much security
Too much routine Too much adventure
Too much stuff Too much nothing
Too much money Too much debt
Too much work Too much down time
Too much busyness Too much laziness
Too much loneliness Too much togetherness
Too much freedom Too much religion (or too many social expectations)

Look at the table above — what areas do you immediately relate to? If you think to yourself “well, I certainly don’t have too much adventure” then it’s possible you have too much routine. A balance of both makes for an interesting life! Maybe you immediately realize you have too much stuff… have you thought of getting more nothing? Giving things away, and not buying things you really don’t need? If you recognize you have too much of something, rather than simply decreasing it, try increasing whatever’s in the adjacent column. If you realize you don’t have enough of something, try decreasing whatever’s in the adjacent column.

Also, we all need beauty and creativity in our lives! Make sure you have a creative outlet, whether it’s creative cooking, building, a hobby, music or art.

That’s all for now! Okay, one more China pic!

Nope, it's not daytime. That's a huge LED screen! It's showing dolphins jumping out of the ocean, but it also plays a few other videos, like a space voyage! Wow!


Contradictions

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heavenly-cloudsA conversation with a friend recently, as we relayed our experiences and generally pondered life, reminded me that life is full of contradictions. Here are a few:

Heaven
Believing in heaven (some sort of happy place after death) can create the feeling that life here and now is purgatory — something to be endured, perhaps move up a level, or try to buy a way out of.
In this way, believing in heaven creates discontentment.

little-cemeteryFear of Death
Death is certain, and you’d think we’d have learned how to face it, yet the fear of death is the most universal of all fears.
We don’t like it when we re forced to realize our time on Earth is limited, but it can make us appreciate our life, and all the sweet moments, that much more. Or it can make us fearful, materialistic, and petty.
Many fears can be equated to the fear of death — for example, wanting to be accepted by peers = fear of rejection = life is “over” if we aren’t popular = fear of death. In this way, we blow things out of proportion and amplify our anxiety. And being accepted by our peers (as adults especially) probably just means we know how to toe the line, kiss the right asses, talk the talk, and avoid offending people who are probably too sensitive anyway!
Facing the fear of death is the one thing that gives the most freedom and life, yet most people don’t do it until they are old and don’t have much time left.
Some people seeking eternal youth get plastic surgery that makes them look old and fake. Youth (young people) are natural and real, not old and fake… and they’re also uncoordinated and inexperienced, but for some reason people don’t seek that!

Happiness
The opposite of happiness is not unhappiness but boredom (This from Timothy Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Work Week). Yet I can be bored and happy at the same time (go figure)!
If you can face intense boredom and “stare it down,” you reach a place of happiness and peace.

Meditation and Seeking the Spiritual
Meditation, for long periods of time, is facing boredom (see point above).
If you are trying to “get good at meditating,” you’ve missed the point.
People try really hard to “find God” or connect to Spirit, when it’s omnipresent — everywhere at all times. It’s like searching for water in the ocean!

Compassion
We all have struggles we are going through (or have gone through), so we should naturally be compassionate… yet we aren’t (usually).
When we go through the toughest times, and don’t avoid the pain or deny what’s happening/our feelings, we break through to a place of peace, grace, and compassion (even if the trial is not over).

Children
Those who speak of the innocence of a child don’t know children. They can be extremely manipulative… and I wonder where they learn that!? The things that drive us crazy about our children they probably learned from us!
The people most likely to give advice for raising children don’t have any.  🙂