Personal Growth for 2015

I don’t make a list of resolutions for the new year, choosing instead to work on one large goal that carries with it several smaller pieces of mental adjustment along the way. I’ve talked about it for the past two years here and here, if you are interested.

Every year since 2010, my major goal just came to me as the obvious choice. This year, it’s a little more difficult for me. I think that all of my work for the past several years led up to my epiphany this past July and that I’m now somewhat plateaued at this stage in my development because I have further work to do here and now. In RPG parlance, I’ve leveled up a character and now I’ve got to learn my new skill sets. It is an entirely new place for me to be, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I feel as though I’ve been expanding for years and now to have had that stopped, or slowed to a crawl, feels odd.

But it is a new year, and a goal must be set even just for tradition’s sake, so I will make my goal to go deeper into the “Tension of Opposites” that I began re-exploring this fall before work caught up with me. My ultimate goal is to find balance within myself and to project that balance outwards to help other people find their balance, but that may be too much to accomplish in one year.

In creative goals, I am going to really make an effort to get my first novel out this year and at least one major painting. I am also going to attempt to become more of a part of the local community, both with art and writing, and hopefully discover new ways to give back and help grow what is happening immediately around me.

Exploring the “Tension of the Opposites”

After posting Walking the Inner Balance Beam last week, a dear friend of mine suggested that I look into Jung’s views on “Holding the Tension of the Opposites”. So, being me, I did a little digging around. Here is an essay on that from the Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences. And then I contacted another friend of mine who has a background in depth psychology to get her point of view. She filled me in on what she knew and then also mentioned that there is a similar idea in Buddhism, that Buddha was in this space of being that Jung describes and was able to laugh and lift himself above the tension. So then I did a little more research. And I have decided to explore this idea a little more deeply during my meditations and morning pages.

In brief, the idea of the “Tension of Opposites” is to hold two opposing viewpoints in your mind simultaneously and not only acknowledge the validity of both, but experience the tension between the two. That moment of experiencing is supposed to produce a third something that is “part synthesis and part transcendence” (to quote my friend). And I don’t think that I’m necessarily searching for transcendence, but being able to harness the creative energy that could potentially come from working in this vein would be really good.

I think I’ve all ready begun some of the initial groundwork I need to do, just in living with the opposites within me and trying to walk a middle ground whenever possible.  Also, back in 2006, I did a lengthy paper on The Woman Who Slept With Men to Take the War Out of Them by Deena Metzger, a novel in play format that was actually my first introduction to Metzger’s writing. And the bulk of the paper dealt with exploring the language of dualities in our society, and how the either/or mindset (or the you aren’t in my group mindset) is at the root of most of the conflicts we have as a species. Man or woman, good or evil, war or peace – I posited that having the or strongly set in our minds gives us little room for negotiating through our lives with those who differ from us, and I briefly touched on how it is especially difficult for those who don’t feel they belong to either side in the dichotomy being examined. My conclusion was that a lot might be accomplished simply by raising a future generation and training ourselves to keep and instead of or in thinking about opposites. It would be an interesting social experiment to run, but an impractical one for many reasons. And having come to that decision, I just sort of left off thinking about it except when events would happen in the world to force me towards philosophical thoughts.

So I have my work cut out for me, in my eternal quest to expand myself. It will be interesting to see where this goes.