Have you ever noticed that the light in paintings is much more striking when contrasted by darkness? The dark colors make the light pop. A painting that is all light pales in comparison.
I have learned a lot from the New Age movement, but in certain essential ways I believe it’s lacking. The idea that we are all light, and that we must dispossess the part of ourselves that is imperfect is problematic. It’s can inflict a good deal of uneccessary pain upon us.
Part of being human means that we experience a wide range of feelings. Including anger, grief, envy, and despair. To dismiss that side of us, is not onely disingenious, but it prevents us from feeling whole.
I have studied many different philosophies, and belief systems. Judaism appeals to me in part because I was brought up with it. I believe that part of what is of value in Judaism, is that the God of the Torah expresses every feeling we encounter in our lives. I believe this helps to give us permission to feel those feelings ourselves.
I’m not saying that spreading our anger around by shouting at people, or by being unkind is okay. What I’m saying is that it’s okay to be human, and to feel our entire range of emotions.
When we try to suppress those emotions, they only get bigger, and begin to fester inside of us. When we deny the darker parts of ourselves, we become disjointed and broken.
I also think that expecting only joy puts us at a disadvantage. We cannot control a whole lot in life. Especially what goes on around us. I’ve found that if I expect only pure happiness I end up feel disappointed in myself, when I am not happy. I end up feeling I’ve been remiss in my responsibilies.
There is something superficial in the word happiness. Joy is a better word, in my mind. The rabbi at a local temple put it this way. Joy is large enough to encompass sadness, and anger, and disappointment. It is not something that is necessarily dependent upon what happens to us. It can be present when happiness is not. Joy is very rich and doesn’t deny any part of ouselves.
If I’ve learned anything in the 50 years of my life, it’s that we need to be kind to ourselves, and to each other. We must be gentle, too. I’m not saying that this is easy. Being human isn’t easy. None of us can escape a certain level of suffering, though some people experience less than others.
I used to think I was so different from other people. Often I’ve felt that I don’t fit in. As I get older I am realizing that we are all so much more alike than we are different. None of us likes to suffer. All of us appreciate being treated with kindness and respect.
Dismissing that we are made of darkness as well as light serves no usefull purpose. Life is already hard. We needn’t make it impossible.
We are human. Most of us survive though or sorrows may be great. Some of us even thrive. This in itself is lovely, and it is enough.