Yin and Yang, and the Folly of Absolute Certainty

We went to the beach at East Wittering, a few hours drive away. The sea air was bracing, the sand between my toes cool. Beach huts in primary colours and bold patterns stood against the grey sky. The baby fussed, and I was secretly pleased to leave our frisbee-playing big kids in their father’s care so I could put the baby in the sling and walk undisturbed along the shore. I need that time alone to replenish my energy, to shake the thoughts from the dark caverns of my mind, to find balance.

And it reminded me of how we need yin and yang, company and isolation, the stark light of day and the comfort of the night, to be whole. Time and again, I come up against internal contradictions. The desire to hide away versus the impulse to unmask my soul. The need to sink into a bath behind a locked door versus the urge to be plugged into social networks. The need to escape for a few minutes with my journal versus the joy of dancing with the crowd at a gig. Wanting to be read, yet not wanting to be revealed.

We are by our very natures a mess of contradictions, so why is it that we spend our lives seeking certainties? How is it that we can be so sure about who we are that we come up against someone different and forget that we probably have more in common than we realise? The world is out of kilter. It is divided along multiple fault lines, and politics is just as likely to drive people apart than bring them together.

We rage on our phones, at our television sets, at family gatherings and in parks. There’s a sleeping bear behind even the most docile facade, waiting to be poked. But it’s tiring to rage, and I’m not sure it does any good. It expends energy but the bile rises again. How polarised we have become, how simultaneously mournful of our divisions yet unwilling to compromise. And yet, isn’t that where the truth can be found? Not in black or white, but in nuance. In the realisation that two truths can coexist, and that the truth is always changing.

So my reader and writer friends, as we rail against the world and unpick its foibles and its horrors, as we celebrate its beauty and seek to build utopias, remember to seize your power. Nothing suits the establishment better than the apathy of the people and their feeling of powerlessness. Find your truth and shout it from the rooftops, but remember truth is not absolute. Don’t give into the fear of stirring the hornet’s nest in this age of outrage. Remember that the lens through which we view the world is personal, not universal. Be mindful of the echo chambers of our own privilege, the feelings you might hurt, and the causes you don’t champion, but never apologise for your passion or your searching.

If this is the Age of Unreason, then we need to do everything in our power to stall it, to bring about a new way. We won’t go quietly into the night. That’s not what writers do. We persist, we resist and we record and pick apart what we see. Onwards

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