The Duality of Good and Bad by Brian Montgomery
I've noticed about myself, and I believe it will be similar for others, that I have two opposing sides to who I am; two sides not altogether different than the dark side and light side of the moon. On one side, I am extremely logical and pragmatic which solidifies sentiments of confidence and direction in my experiences. However, on the flip side of my mind, is a fearful side plagued with doubt. I remember a saying from somewhere about the size of your dreams being inadequate unless they scare you (which is a good measure), but I can ensure anyone reading, frankly, when the dark side takes over, I'm scared shitless. It's like a complete 180 degree turn from one side to the other, and sometimes I wish I could erase that part of me.
Life is great when I am operating in the logical side of my mind. Time on this side of the neighborhood of my brain generates hope and plans and goals. I can acknowledge the things I am learning, appreciate the efforts I am putting forth, and feel pride in the noticeable progress I am making. I cruise through to-do lists and routines like the convertible top is down in my car and the wind is in my hair. It definitely seems like the most work gets done during the good times. I can always count on laying down at the end of the day, while I'm in this frame of mind, and feeling proud of the accomplishments I made. I can go to sleep peacefully, excited to start the process all over again the next day.
Just like the weather in Georgia though, the sunshine WILL come to an end, and I will inevitably slip over to the rainy, fearful side of my mind. This side of myself notices all the errors, all the missteps, and all the non-successes and it fixates on them. It seems like a lot of times, I find myself in doubt after a tough/ negative experience: I don't get enough sleep, I mess up something at work, or I'm too busy for too long. I start to feel like I may never achieve my dreams. I become convinced I will fail to seize the fate I for-see for myself. No matter how hard I work, I seem to be spinning my wheels in the mud wasting energy and falling short. I leave tasks incomplete on my to-do list and procrastinate. I waste time watching TV or online. I leave dishes in the sink or neglect other small chores. I stay up at night during the tough times contemplating (and maybe obsessing) over things.
I guess what I've discovered about myself is the old Chinese philosophy of yin and yang; where two opposing sides interact (hopefully) to form a sum greater than the parts. Though, even in the realization of this, it doesn't make the dark side of the duality any more bearable. Many times, I attempt to come up with some mental trick or a well worded proverb to calm the stormy side of my mind; I try to bandage the situation and avoid it rather than addressing and resolving it. However, I believe this is a pattern for more than just me. In fact, I think as a society we spend our lives avoiding the negative parts of life like this in error. If we only bandage these situations without fixing mistakes or addressing issues, we are doing ourselves and society as a whole a disservice. Through avoidance, we ignore the places we fall short. We run from issues, be it mountains or molehills, leaving them unresolved. Through avoidance, we lose the part of yin and yang that causes the synergy. Aren't challenges where we grow? Aren't the hard times, by the simple fact we survived them, where we convince ourselves we are a little bit stronger and a little more successful? If we are able to make it through "X" or survive "Y" then we can definitely achieve "Z", right? As unpleasant as the dark side of my mind, or our lives is, I truly believe that we must face these times as opportunities.
I will forever dread the times I operate out of the fearful side of my mind, but I will always try to remind myself that it is necessary. The dichotomies of light and dark, good and bad, expansion and contraction will add up to more in our lives than a simple sum of components. I will get farther by surviving the bad times because I will have the assuredness of my resiliency. For instance, if I'm able to make it through a workout while I'm sick (bad/ hard time), the sky's the limit the next time I go to the gym healthy (good times). I will take the struggles and tribulations of the stormy times as rain to nourish the seeds of success in the sunny times. We may be terrified at points during our lives and looking for the nearest way out, but that's the point, right? We run like hell through the bad times until we are farther down our paths in life and out back under the sun. Time will never stop progressing and if we can stay in the fight long enough during hard times, the things we learn and the strength we gain will allow us to accomplish more in the good times. For me, the hopes, plans and goals of the logical side are refined and bolstered through the examination of my errors missteps, and non-successes. The cycle continues on and I inexorably move farther through this, the little story of my life.
- Brian Montgomery