yin v. yang

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It’s a dance I know by heart, this shifting and swaying from the outward world of human entanglements to an inner place of calm reflection. I’m not sure I could stop this movement if I tried, caught between voices calling cause to action and others from far hillsides beckoning me to run away — to fly away and be freed.

All around are people caught in conflict, their caring inching closer daily to anger, with words unheard, meanings misunderstood, and passions unrequited. On issues local, global, and universal, we have shouting like never before.

Yet larger still are the legions who’ve checked out, closed up, and retreated to the siloed sanctuary of their sanity. Rejecting lives of conflict and strife, they seek refuge in the routines and commitments of passing days.

One man’s indifference is another’s self-preservation. One woman’s rage is someone else’s principled stand.

Me, I dance. Ill-at-ease with anger or indifference, what to do? Where to go?

Like the Taoist yin and yang, my steps towards one extreme lead inevitably to the other. Forays into civic involvement leave me longing for the deeper sense of self that only separation brings. And, yet, in the silent stillness there is always the distant calling for connecting once more to something larger than myself.

Perhaps it’s not a choice at all. Maybe it’s the dance that will save us?


Counter Point

It’s the kind of sky you only see in winter – that deep, rich blue unequaled in creation. “Sky blue” doesn’t do it justice, but what else is there? Cold wind flushes my cheeks and forehead, yet warm sunlight filtered through a leafless pecan tree paints silhouettes on the white planks of a tool shed. In those shadows moves an image, drawing up my gaze to find a red-bellied woodpecker poking amongst the ripples of the tree bark, seeking her afternoon snack. A stiff gust rattles the branches overhead, but louder still are the rat-a-tat-tat of her pecking and the call of other birds scattered throughout the woods beyond the weathered fence. My little dog sighs a muffled “woof,” tugging the leash between her teeth to say “let’s play!”

Such moments are my reminder. No matter how significant seem the trials and troubles that occupy our waking hours, they are but a small, small part of the much larger world in which we walk. Caring about the concerns of our man-made world is part of being human – an obligation owed for living in a community of others. But, the soul that experiences moments such as these and the heart that loves awareness are a heart and soul that cannot long harbor anger nor ever tolerate hate.

I pause. I remember. I smile. Have I told you about this sky?

Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter is President and Founder of Breathe-Water, LLC, where he uses community building, storytelling, consulting, and social media to enable businesses, non-profits, and communities to understand and harness forces for positive change. An Atlanta native living in Covington, GA, Maurice is an active community volunteer, a freelance columnist, and an advocate for causes that build community and promote thoughtful responses to the opportunities and challenges of our day.