Understanding the Yin and Yang

By Judie Schaal

Understanding the Yin and Yang

The Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy the two are used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.

It was a cold dark blustery night. The rain began to fall heavily as a friend and I pulled out of my driveway. We were headed to a major basketball tournament; one we had looked forward to for weeks and weeks. We arrived at the coliseum and parked a good distance from the nearest lighted entrance. “Let’s make a run for it,” she said, as she quickly left the car and darted through the rain, her thin coat flapping in the wind behind her. On the other hand, I gingerly opened my door and stepped out, right into the middle of a big cold puddle. I looked up, and she was gone. Having no other choice, I planted my second foot next to my first and sloshed my way to the building.

Wet, cold and irritable, I joined her inside, and soon we were settled in our seats. I was looking for my stadium blanket to wrap around my frigid body when I turned to speak to her. She was fanning herself with the night’s program while beads of sweat were running down the sides of her face. “Boy is it hot in here,” she said. I was still bundled in my winter coat with toes feeling like icicles crammed into my thin wet boots. Unbelievable, I thought, how on earth could she possibly be hot? What kind of an individual can weather a storm like the one outside and be roasting inside?

My husband and I had spent a lovely day shopping. We had been returning unwanted Christmas gifts and checking out the January sales. It had felt good walking through the Mall getting some exercise after eating way too many holiday appetizers and calorie-loaded desserts. When we had finished our shopping, we picked up a movie from Blockbuster and headed home. We put away our packages, had a light supper, and settled down on the sofa to watch the spy thriller we had rented.

The action in the movie began from the very first scene. The hero was being chased in his car down a dark winding road with a passenger screaming by his side. I cuddled closer to my husband. Having eluded his chaser by pulling into a parking garage, they both were trapped there as the ground began to tremble from an earthquake. I looked over at my husband. His eyes were beginning to close. I elbowed him a little. “Hmm,” he said. The couple from the car had escaped the crumbling concrete around them by jumping from a second story level. I heard a faint rumbling beside me. It was the exciting man I married, snoring. However, wide awake, adrenaline raging, I was pulling for the two heroes to overcome their adversity and ensnare the villains. “Think I’ll go to bed,”’ he said.

“Go to bed?” I retorted, “You’ll miss the ending!”

“You can tell me about it in the morning.”

What was the matter with this man? How could he be sleepy while our heroes were fighting for their lives? In fact, after I finished watching the movie, I even read half a book. How could he be so tired when I was so awake?

I’m on the board of our neighborhood’s home owners association. We meet once a month and must resolve a great many problems that arise in the preceding days. The streets need paving, security must be addressed, flowers have to be selected, contracts gone over, legal issues, barking dogs and the list goes on and on. It’s a hard working concerned group of volunteers, and all have done their homework on issues that pertain to them before each meeting. We convene at 9 am and sometimes meet for four or five hours.

At a recent meeting we had a huge agenda, made more complicated by the fact we were interviewing individuals for a contract that needed to be filled. We stopped at noon for a brief lunch, and then continued on until 5 o’clock in the afternoon. That was eight hours of sitting, talking and listening. I looked around. Everyone seemed to be intently focused on the subject at hand. I kept looking at my watch. The minutes slowly ticked by. I crossed my legs. I uncrossed them. I sat on my right hip. I sat on my left. I slouched in the chair. I sat up straight. Would this meeting never end? How could everyone concentrate so fully when my mind was drifting in and out of the conversations? Were these people crazy…or was it I who needed a correction?

The Yin and Yang. She’s hot, and I’m cold. He’s sleepy, and I’m wide awake. They are focused and I’m fidgety. How different we all are and yet I cherish my sports loving friend. I couldn’t live without my wonderful husband. And the meetings I attend are worth all the time we spend. I realize I need to work on my patience with those who are different from me. The world is full of opposites, and yet we are all interconnected…like a chain a child makes from different colored paper rings. And if we break that chain, say harsh words, how hard it is to reconnect.

In this new year, this new decade of 2011, my New Year’s Resolution is to take time to understand those who do not fit my pattern. To have more patience, more understanding and more love for my fellow man.

About this writer

  • Judie Schaal Judie Schaal lives in Murrells Inlet with Gary, her husband of 50 years. She has written for On The Green magazine, the Sun News as a tennis columnist and is currently copy editor and photographer of a local color 28 page newsletter.

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