It's a certain struggle (the wretched), but also one of most important facets of our existence (the relief).
Just when you start to get used to a different and exciting experience--a fresh new way of living--it inevitably and abruptly ends, and the winds of the change push you in a new direction.
This constant shift is a central element of life. We need both beauty and brawn. We need both the amazing and the awful.
But it goes far beyond those two basic and diametrically opposed emotions. Within both the amazing and the awful--even within the mundane that comes between--we require variety. You might take the same path to work, go to the same class at the gym, or wake up every morning at the same time... but still each day there are different people on that commute, there's a new exercise routine at the gym, and the song on your alarm clock is the new big hit. It's that balance of variety, no matter how subtle, that keeps life fresh, keeps us going, and keeps us growing.
There's been a lot of change in my life this past year. If you've ever read this blogl, that's no secret. But the shifting winds have been gale force of late.
Through it all there's one major thing I've learned: no matter what happens in life there's always a yin and a yang--a balance.
Over the course of one recent week I went from a very definitive yin to a whole other extreme yang. One day I was meticulously gussied up at the Academy Awards, and then just a few days later I was antithetically grubbied down in a dusty tent at Death Valley National Park.
This situation of contrasts was an accident of sorts.
First of all, I don't work in the entertainment industry, so it was of no effort on my part that I ended up attending the Oscars. My partner, Jonathan Herman, was deservedly nominated for writing Straight Outta Compton. I'm proud of my man and grateful I got to tag along for the ride. And what a crazy, magical, amazing ride it was--from hob-nobbing celebrities, to red carpets, to Chris Rock’s daughters' Girl Scout cookies, it was the apex of glitz and glamour. And even though I'm more of a down-to-earth-hippie-granola-kinda-guy, I loved every minute of it.
Second of all, it wasn't particularly my intention to visit Death Valley again. I had just traveled there a few months prior, but Mother Nature, El Niño, and the superbloom she kindled had other intentions. I wanted to see that naked and desolate landscape spring to life. I wanted to marvel in yet another beautifully twisted contradiction of nature.
So, while still hungover and starstruck from the decadent Vanity Fair Oscar party, I packed my tuxedo away on the closet, readied my camping gear, and dusted off my tattered national parks passport. I was ready to follow the prevailing winds that were yet again guiding my life. Eagerly adaptable and willing to shift from one apex of life to a completely opposite, yet still resoundingly amazing apex.
You see, balance in life isn't just about ups and downs. Sometimes balance is about both regular ups, and other, totally dissimilar, but still completely awesome ups. It’s also about both terrible downs, and other dissimilar, but equally debilitating downs. It's also about a variety of discernible dimensions in between.
I've been through periods in life when downs compounded upon downs, and I thought there would be nothing left for me in life but more of them, in perpetuity, ad nauseam. But alas, as usual, the ups eventually returned. They all repeat and cycle, each time in new, profound, and inexplicable ways.
That's life. Assorted ups, miscellaneous downs, and a whole slew of gray areas in the middle.
Routine feels safe, but rarely is it real. You can fight the prevailing winds all you'd like, but eventually they will knock you down, lift you up, and shove you from side to side. That bluster of variety is what makes us unique. It’s what life is all about. It's kind of magnificent.