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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Value of Adversity and the Struggle

As I look back on the last 50 years of my life and recount the good times- I simply can't neglect the value of adversity. Of struggle. Without adversity and the struggle- you cannot know what is good in life. Very often, it is the struggle itself. From wiki on yin yang...

In Taoist philosophy, yin and yang (☯) arise together from an initial quiescence or emptiness (wuji, sometimes symbolized by an empty circle), and continue moving in tandem until quiescence is reached again. For instance, 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 and yang thus are always opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

It is impossible to talk about yin or yang without some reference to the opposite, since yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front).

When we are living through adversity and the struggle we have no idea of it's value. In fact- we think it has no value or that it is detrimental. We label it as negative. We try to avoid the struggle at all costs. We fight and resist it. Yet it is that very struggle that will define the high points in our lives. Adversity and the struggle and the extent of it- may very well define what type of life we will have. It will define the perimeters. And we will look back at the struggle and very often we will say- that times of great adversity were the most valuable times in our lives.

What happens to those that never taste significant adversity? Their lives are narrowly defined. The lows are higher, the highs are lower. The good and the bad get blurred. People that have not tasted substantial adversity are cheated in life. They have no reference point. They lack understanding. They never taste the fear of spending a night under the park bench or in the mission. They take life for granted. A life without fear, without struggle or sacrifice, has diminished value. Without yang there can be no yin. They define each other. They exist in complete harmony- unless of course humans interfere with that process.

I have seen people who have tasted little or no adversity. I know of a couple enduring tremendous adversity right now. I look with confidence upon the latter...they will grow quite strong. I feel sorry for the former. They will have no way of measuring what is good or bad in life. They will not be forced to fear, to fight, to struggle mightily, to improve. It will all just be mediocre for them. Their life's yin will lack luster. They will not understand.

As I look back on the greatest times in my life- there were times of success, of adversity, and of struggle. I am grateful for the lowest lows in my life for without them- I could not define how valuable and wonderful life can be. I want to feel the good and the bad. I don't want some mediocre existence shielded by well meaning people trying to make my life easier. I like it hard sometimes. I am ok with that. I am grateful for every ache in my body. To feel those aches- aches that I earned in the struggle. I see the value of those things- I can't imagine life being any other way.

1 comment:

  1. Without adversity and the struggle- you cannot know what is good in life.

    This is like saying - you won't know the value of something until it's gone (in my opinion). Anyway, challenges and struggle hone you into a better you. These are stepping stones that will change you for the better; you're stronger, more agile.

    I learned how to handle bigger problems in my life and my family through EFT training although not everything has to be laid upon the training, of course, I have to have that drive into changing myself.