I had two cups of tea this morning and, interestingly enough, the wise little statements they provided had something in common. Balance. The good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, the cycle of give and take and ups and downs that are life.
“For every loss there’s an equal gain, for every gain there’s an equal loss.”
Notice the word equal. So true. I wrote in an earlier post that moving out of Centinela Ave. (with Rob, Angelica, and Steph) was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. This is because what I sacrificed this sense of home for was such a tremendous, tremendous experience–an experience I’ve been craving for years. So, some discomfort/pain had to accompany it. A year as a Princeton in Asia Fellows is full of highs. If I did not have the lows of longing for what I lost (beit willingly), perhaps the highs would not have felt the same. I don’t know, but I can say without the loss, the gain would not be the same. And vice versa. Some people may prefer or try to fill their life with only highs or gains. Think about it this way…if you lived in a location where the weather was always exactly perfect you would likely forget how amazing this good weather feels because it’s all you know. You’d need to take a trip to Chicago in the winter to really remember how lucky you are to live in constant sunshine (or whatever your perfect weather may be). Similarly, gains and losses provide contrast and a way to gauge our feelings.
“The art of longing and the art of belonging must be experienced in life.”
I love this one because it’s something with which I am very much in touch. Having the tendency to check out of one life and into another creates some pretty intense emotions for me and the people I’m closest to. What has allowed me to come to terms with these emotions is simply that they are meant to be felt. That longing to be a part of your old group of friends or hanging out with them on weekends can be insanely frustrating. But there is always a reason you are not in a situation you may want to be in. For me, I do choose to be away…though I would kill to be out in LA with my friends. At times like right now, as I sit here alone in my room overlooking Shanghai talking to myself at noon, I know that Rob, Kiley, Scott, Joey and Courtney are out at a loud bar in LA. What good reason is there that I shouldn’t be there? My conclusion: I belong somewhere else right now even if it sucks to be away from those your love. While I feel intense satisfaction from the sense of belonging my friends and family provide me, I also find a sense of belonging two other distinct ways: 1) in not belonging, 2) in belonging with myself. Right now, I am belonging to myself, to a feeling of solitude, to not being able to always function in another culture….while longing for the warmth of family, friends and familiarity. At some point in the future, I know I will belong to the familiar and long for the unknown. It’s all a natural process you can see in almost everything around you…oceans, seasons, friendships, love…Oh the ebbs and flows of life. How enlightened one feels once this process of balance and contrast is understood (or at least…trying to be understood). 平衡.