People will say, “I don’t know if I’m happy or sad.” Or “I love him but I’m so mad I hate him.” Or “you are right” or “you are wrong.”
Why do we feel we have to choose, and come down on one side or another so much of the time? Instead, it can be wise to notice “I’m this and I’m that, both at the very same time, and so much more.” And so are you!
When I get caught wanting to take sides and simplify the nuances of life into a dichotomy, I often repeat that phrase to myself: “it’s this and it’s that, both at the very same time, and so much more.”
The Balinese symbolize this with the black and white checked cloth you see sometimes being worn during ceremonies, as shown in these photos, and often draped on trees, statues, bridges. This cloth is never used in the interior of temples, where a deeper understanding is practiced, that death is inherent in life, and life in death; that mistakes lead to wisdom, that joy contains sorrow. When woven, black and white checks can’t exist separate from the mixture of black and white that connects them.
So, I’m black and I’m white, I’m good and I’m bad, I’m happy and I’m sad, both at the very same time, and so much more.
(Thanks once more to therapists Stephen Gilligan for teaching me this and Stephen Nicholas for reminding me of it.)
Photos: Bali, 1967