A Big Whole
Last week I wrote about the accomplishment of goals as an effect of loss rather than as a result of input. This is just one part of a bigger whole I’ve been pondering since, and I’d like to examine more of that whole now, so to speak. I’ll wash my hands and be gentle and it’ll all be over before you know it, I promise.
Broadly speaking, we, life, perhaps the universe itself, exist within two hemispheres or states: the receptive and the active.
Of course, existence isn’t static, nothing is. Nothing simply stops. All things loop and transmute. This looping and transmuting is constant. A constant and continual oscillation from one hemisphere to its opposite. One necessarily and naturally follows the other, precipitating the reoccurrence of the former, occasioning the arrival of the latter, and so on and on ad infinitum.
Accomplishment – if I may shine my little torch on last week’s parts again for just a moment – is (or at least it’s my assertion that it is) or is found only at, the confluence of the two hemispheres. It can be accessed through either. It’s the very point of completion, the momentary apex, the tip of the tipping point connecting one hemisphere to the other. It’s the highest point in momentum’s upward arc before the descent and the lowest point in the descent before momentum’s rise. It is catharsis.
But let’s leave that there now. Accomplishment has been accomplished here.
As for the two hemispheres, there’s no absolute threshold between them, no precise moment of change, but, rather, continual revolution through both.
This pattern is universal, determined and deterministic and beautiful. It’s balance, it’s order – even from chaos – it’s all things. It’s both a duality of existence and the non-dual through-line that inextricably connects all opposites. It is the perennial.
This is the (eternal) way of things. My dad, and many others, called it, call it, the Tao, but call it what you will.
The receptive and the active. Night and day. Yin and yang. Gain and loss. Inhalation and exhalation. Inspiration and expression.
The cyclical natural order is multi-layered as interweaving spirals spin at different rates. Consider, for instance, the micro-cycle of breath, the mesocycle of night to day, the macrocycle of a lifetime.
Perhaps this is obvious, so obvious it hardly bears a mention.
But sometimes things are so obvious they get lost in plain sight and their very mentioning draws them forward from ground to figure. Universal truths like this are exactly that: obvious and easy to see through or forget. But they’re there, always, for when we need them—bright and brilliant signs to help steer the trip.
Because I think the trick to enjoying the trip as much as possible (and surely that’s the big whole point, isn’t it?) is to be in alignment with the cycles.
When we’re in alignment, we experience life in flow, in gradual growth and fluid ease. But when our tempo or rhythm drifts, our experience turns, and we suffer from disorder and dis-ease.
If we take a step back to examine which hemisphere we’re in, at any given instant, we may notice we’re out of sync. We may realise we’re expending energy when it’s actually time to rest. Or we’re lazing about when what’s required is to take things by the scruff of the neck.
I sincerely believe we all have the immanent wisdom to know the phase of our internal state (of mind and, indeed, body), to decipher between the receptive and active and to apply our self accordingly. And the more we practise this awareness, the more adept we'll get.
Admittedly, sometimes it takes someone else to point it out.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in one of those relationships that might only come around once or twice a lifetime (I’m personally hoping for twice). If you’ve been in one you’ll know the feeling. It’s the feeling of being home. It felt perfect. Completely unexpected. Romance dripping from the rafters. The kind of thing you see in films and think yeah right Richard Curtis you big schmaltzy sonofabitch life doesn’t go like that. But (for a while at least) it really did.
The only small problem in the relationship was the 5,000 miles separating me in London from her in Los Angeles.
And one day towards the end of my first trip out to see her there I left the house we were staying in up in the Hollywood hills, while she was out at work, needing to clear my mind. I headed down the steep and windy road to find a bite to eat. And as I turned onto Sunset Boulevard, I may as well have been in that Richard Curtis film. Because if anyone’s walked along Sunset Boulevard on a weekday afternoon in the depths of love-struck pain as the traffic of 12 trillion cars whizzes past and there’s not another walking soul in sight, you’ll know there’s literally no lonelier place on earth—and it was going to take the imagination of the deftest screenwriter to see me through to satisfying denouement. Yes, I was entirely consumed with the heavy heart-breaking sadness of knowing I was leaving the next day and even though all I wanted with every atom of my soul was to be with this woman forevermore, there was just no plausible way to keep this relationship going. Despite the love and romance and whispered pillow promises, my life was rooted to London and hers cemented to that (awful fucking) city (no offence), LA.
So I called my dad to get his take on things, to see if he had an answer, and he laughed the laugh of a man who’s walked that road before (metaphorically speaking, I mean, I have no idea if he’s walked down Sunset Boulevard on a weekday afternoon looking for a supermarket). And then he suggested the answer might be in doing nothing whatsoever. He told me to just observe. To treat this experience like a scientist observing an unfolding experiment, recording the data as it comes. Observe my feelings. Observe the love and the pain and the frustration and jealousy and the childish desire for things to be different. He suggested I try not to seek conclusions now because now obviously isn’t when they’re ready. So don’t act. Just receive the information as it comes. And then, after some time, when the natural order of all things begins to tip back the other way, the answer will emerge from the pool of gathered information, and then will be the time to act.
And he was right. I flew home, gave it some thought and dumped her.
Just joking. Course I didn’t. I mean we did eventually break up, four years later, but that’s an entirely different story. Back then at the start of the relationship there was nothing to do but experience all the sensations the relationship had to offer. It wasn’t the time for planning or doing or trying to change. It was there to be enjoyed and experienced in its fullness, pain and love and everything in between. And sure enough, after some time, she and I figured out what the next step would be.
Because everything belongs to a bigger entirety. It’s all part of a cycle, a hemispheric rhythm; the dancing, spiralling, orbiting, contorting, never-ending twisting ellipses of existence.
And when you stop, step back and to look at it, it’s a truly beautiful whole.
See, I said it’d be gentle and quick.
With love, Jake x