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"I dance the borders of shadow and light"

It's a pretty strong statement, when you think about it. So many of us today are so obsessed with this duality, and picking sides. Cue the bullhorn. <static crackle> "In this corner we have the sweeter side, joined by the austere denial, all in the cause of good!" <static crackle> "And in this corner we have the determined hedonists, joined by the murderers and thieves, in the cause of dark!  It's a fight to the finish! Who will win? We'll see when the battle is over!" <static crackle> <static crackle>

Pardon me for saying this, but what a waste of energy! I got caught up in the mentality too, don't get me wrong. And I'm not talking here about the duality of good and evil, just the light and darkness inside each of us. I hear so many people trying so hard to "banish their darker sides," and frankly the best it's going to do is land someone in therapy when the walls come down and denial is no longer an option. There is a darkness and a lightness inside each of us, and it's part of what makes us whole.

There's a principle in the Chinese game of Go, that if you attack something you only make it stronger. In Go there's a chance that you may be able to capture the opposing stones, so in Go sometimes attack is acceptable in that sense (really the idea is to make the opponent strengthen himself in counterproductive areas, but that's another issue). In personalities however, you really can't extract a portion of yourself. You can wall it away, but heaven forbid that wall comes down, and you will never be whole. In order to be whole, you must embrace all of yourself - shadows and light alike - and then make your decisions with a calm heart.

It's not nearly as easy as it sounds. Facing up to those inner demons can be a real beast (if you'll pardon the pun). But depending on what you end up doing with yourself, it could be rather important to a greater or lesser degree. For example, if you are a mage and ever face anything "nasty," or are a priest and have had to banish a spirit, you probably know that they can throw you some pretty ugly curveballs. Ever had the mirror thrown up in front of you? Had your own fears exploited and thrown in your face as a defense/offense? You wall it up, and then this happens, and - surprise surprise, what do I see but the fears I walled off, bigger and badder than ever, not to mention pissed off at being walled up! Or the experience of having a dark desire offered to you... can you deny it? So from that standpoint, embracing your own darkness is simple self-defense; it limits the curveballs you can be thrown. On the lesser degree, you will not feel whole, and even could come out repressed in some ways, most commonly sexually.  So you wind up in therapy.

Now, please don't misunderstand here - I'm not calling emotions as part of your dark side. It's easy to look at yourself and say "but I'm insecure! You're saying I'm supposed to embrace my insecurity?" No m'am, that's not at ALL what I'm saying. I'm saying look to the root of that insecurity. Is it a need for perfection? Then recognize and embrace the fact that you feel the need to be perfect all the time, realize that it's a limit you put on yourself, and allow yourself to work around it if you have to.

One of my favorite exercises is the "why" game. What you do is you take a problem, an issue, and emotion, whatever - and you just ask "why?" or propose a solution, and no full circles allowed. Example:
I'm upset. - Why? - Because I suck. - Why? - Because I played badly. - (solution?) So play better. - I can't. - Why? - Because I suck - Not good enough, no full circles, answer that again. Why can't you play better? - Because I don't practice - Why? - Because I don't have time - Why? - because..
You get the idea? If you go around and around with yourself, and are disciplined about it, you may actually get at the root of the problem and find something out about yourself, or perhaps find a workable solution. Either way, don't mistake a reaction for a part of yourself - find out what part of yourself causes the reaction.

"I dance the borders of shadow and light." There's another part to this statement, and that's the word "dance." When you dance you step to one side, and then the other of a line. You move freely. You flow and whirl, with no obstructions. When I say I dance that line, I mean I move *relatively* easily through both, or at least I try to. I mean there's not a cliff there, it's not a wall I can't cross, and I'm not walking beside that wall. Sometimes I choose to indulge my darker side. Other times I do not. It all depends on the situation, but more importantly, it's ME making that decision, not some knee-jerk reaction. And that's really the message here - I choose my path. I don't let that path be chosen by a reaction against (or for) either my own darkness or my own light. I decide.

Or at least I try.

-Jaelle 7/2001

Choices Tolerance Shadow/Light Influences Sacred Life Yourself