Head Scarves and Nipple Tassels: Life’s Juxtapositions
Life is full of many contrasts and contradictions. For example, think of power and beauty. I think often times we don’t correlate beauty with traditional concepts of power (tough, masculine, strong) or power with beauty. However, the two are not mutually exclusive, especially as women gain greater authority in politics, business, entertainment, and at home. Power does not have to be domineering, overbearing, or intimidating. Nor does beauty have to be soft, fragile, or gentle.
Just think of a lightning storm – it is simultaneously fiercely powerful and mesmerizing. Jaguars are sleek and beautiful animals, but also very strong and dominant. Snow is gorgeous when it glistens in the sun, but can easily overtake skiers and snowboarders in an avalanche.
Life is full of amazing and interesting juxtapositions and paradoxes. Life is equally wonderful as it is tragic.
Recently, I traveled to Morocco, an amazingly devout and committed country to their faith which is also very conservative and steeped in tradition, culture, and history. Within the same week I then traveled to Las Vegas – sin city – home of lasciviousness and hedonism. This in of itself was a great example of the contrasts in life. Even within Morocco, our tour guide Abdul continually said that Morocco was a country of contrasts (for example, there is an expectation for women to be covered and dress conservatively in the street; yet, if you go to a spa you are essentially stripped naked without even so much as a loin cloth to cover you.) In between travelling to these two vastly different places, it was the three year anniversary of my mom passing.
It struck me that the past three weeks has been quite profound, experiencing the best of life juxtaposed to life’s worse. Life is both beautiful and tragic.
But, tragedy does not wipe out or negate the fullness and richness of life – it is part of it. The amount, intensity, and duration of the beauty of tragedy we endure/experience is entirely up to us. We choose to prolong suffering, and we also choose joy.
No matter the stresses, heartache, depression, tough times we go through, life is happening around us. There is laughter, love, happiness, joy happening every second. I mention this in order to put things in perspective. The universe is huge, and trials and tribulations one is going through (despite how real it feels to us or how gut wrenching it is) is a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. Joy persists despite our personal/professional difficulties. Happiness persists. Love persists. This same happiness is waiting for you and is accessible – when you are ready for it.
In retrospect; I realize I was in a state of depression for one, possibly two years after I lost my mom. I was very cognizant of the fact that on the same day my mom died there were babies being born. Life continues. At the time I wasn’t interested or have the ability to be joyful…but I knew joy was out there. Depression is something (in my opinion) you simply need to let run its course rather than try to fight it or wish it away.
So, in sum, choose to be beautiful and powerful – one doesn’t have to override the other, they can both be present at once. In addition, know that beauty doesn’t disappear during tragedy. It is still there. It is still within and surrounding you. What I learned in Morocco is that in life, things don’t have to be either or. One doesn’t have to be powerful or beautiful. A career isn’t good or bad. Someone doesn’t have to be conservative or liberal. Life isn’t black or white; life is black and white with a bit of gray thrown in. Something that seems to be contradictory can actually be found within the same person, place, thing. Humans are complex; life is complex. Embrace the differences and contrasts, by doing so, you can easily and deftly navigate life’s quirks, twists, turns and adapt readily. When tragedy strikes, it will prevent you from being paralyzed with grief, knowing that this experience is all part and parcel with life. You will also understand that you don’t need to appreciate beauty or power, but that both can cohabitate and it makes a beautifully powerful pairing.