Juxtaposition is one of my all-time favorite words. It not only sounds cool – juxtaposition – and maybe that’s because I still have a small bro crush on Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy and the word kind of sounds like his name – but also due to the implications of what the word represents.
It’s a mind-fuck word. It’s a “this shouldn’t make sense in a black-and-white world” word. It’s the kind of word that stretches your consciousness in order to understand its very meaning.
Yin cannot exist
Light cannot exist
Male cannot exist
Most of us understand this duality and embrace the difference between the two expressions of each energy.
We understand it until we’re slamming our heads into a wall after a spirited debate about punctuality and wardrobe changes with our significant other. We understand it until we learn that all of the upper body strength we’ve developed that makes us look awesome naked has impinged our necks. We understand this duality until the part of our jobs we were originally most attracted to is now boring as shit.
How can we embrace the juxtaposition of life? How can we sit in the tension created by polar opposites and let the feeling of discomfort be in our bodies? How can we live with this tension without moving an inch, without releasing one fraction of it, and instead choose to swim in it?
Yeah, this conflict may suck, but I’m not running from it.
In fact, I’m going to let it turn me on.
Is this not the essence of attraction? Is the tension created by overwhelming desire not the most delicious part of the experience? Isn’t the moment when the aroma of the steak hits your nose minutely more sensual than the fourth bite?
Isn’t it that tension of opposites – of knowing what’s coming but having to hold the anticipation – what makes ripping the wrapping paper from Christmas presents the juicy experience that it is?
Which is more magical: that first long-awaited kiss or the almost imperceptible moment right before your lips touch? That excruciatingly poignant moment before the two nervous opposites collide. Juxtaposition holds that tension.
the queen sitting
on the throne of
desire waiting to
meter out pleasure
to her submissive
Without juxtaposition, our lives would be nothing more than days filled with putting our mouths up to the spout of a soft serve ice cream dispenser – vanilla only – and pulling the lever. All day. Every day. I’m an ice cream whore and even that would get boring even for me.
A life without that juxtaposed tension is one without excitement, without growth, and without desire. Yet we fight these opposites in other areas of our black–and-white lives. We grasp to see the seeds of potential in our greatest trials; to feel the possibilities for growth when our lives are falling apart, to believe that adversity by its very nature comes rife with opportunities for expansion – to make us more than we are at this very moment.
We may say, “I cannot find pleasure in the midst of pain. I cannot look for growth while I’m being torn down by my life circumstances. I cannot love those who hurt me.”
We may say,
“I cannot find
pleasure in the midst
of pain. I cannot
look for growth while
I’m being torn down
by my life circumstances.
I cannot love those
who hurt me.”
Or can we?
Or can we? Can we embrace the tension of the opposites knowing the experience of doing so will lead us to a deeper sense of ourselves. A deeper sense of the duality that exists in the universe, whether we want to embrace it or not.
Embracing the duality will let us find peace in the midst of turmoil. It will let us enjoy pleasure in the face of pain. It will allow us the room to experience our lives in a larger manner – one that does not demand a black or white response to any given situation.
If life is truly not what happens to us but how we react to it, as Epictitus says, then our response to all of the shit that gets thrown at us is vital to how we live out our day-to-day experience. When we have more options available, more options to choose from, and more options that we’re comfortable expressing, then we have significantly more power in our lives.
Embrace the juxtaposed aspects of what is happening in your life. Look for the seeds of good in the bad, for light in the dark, and growth opportunity in the challenges. By Universal Law, they have to be there. It’s our choice to see them or not.
1. Grab a pen and paper. List three areas of your life that are challenging, and be specific. Is it your relationship with a parent? Is it your work life? List your challenging areas out. Now find one opposite in each of those situations. What’s good about your relationship with that person? What’s empowering about your job? Write them down.
2. Looking at the above list, and ask yourself how you can accentuate the positive by 10%. How can you make the growth potential at your job 10% greater? If you have communication issues with your boss, can you read a book on how to be a better communicator yourself and put its lessons into practice? Do this.
3. Breathe. It may sound fluffy, but look at your list and while reading it over, take ten deep breaths. Tell yourself there is duality in all situations and nothing is completely black or white. Breathe again knowing your life is following Universal Principals greater than you and some of those may be painful. This is not exclusive to you. Breathe again.