“Life is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.” – Hunter S. Thompson

[R.I.P. H.S.T.]

I am a Gemini.  I don’t know how much you, the reader, appreciate astrology, but I think it’s interesting to investigate the notion that the day on which someone was born might have an impact on their personality and their life in general.  That’s about as far as it goes for me.  Interested, but not highly invested.  As far as religion goes, I am a believer in a higher power.  I call it God, but you can call it whatever you want.  Either way, I have a hard time believing that there isn’t something bigger than us working out things that we could never fully wrap our heads around.  One of the aspects of faith that I’ve had more difficulty with is the existence of evil and specifically people who unleash truly heinous acts on the world.  Personally, I need to believe that the negativity we so often see in the newspaper(.com) creates opportunities for positivity to grow and spread.  It has to.

I’ve been going to Mass with my beautiful, amazingly witty and brilliant wife (who was raised Catholic) and the readings lately have, of course, corresponded to the Lenten season.  This past Sunday’s reading was about Noah and the Ark and I was interested to hear the priest discuss the part of the story where God promises Noah that he will never again flood the earth and destroy everything.  He, God, said that the destruction had allowed for new life to come through.  I liked that a lot and I feel like it sums up my thoughts on this particular part of this post.  Destruction begets Creation.  Negativity creates a void that Positivity can (and hopefully will) fill.  It’s a beautiful thought.

[One of my favorite parts of the Sandman series of graphic novels is when Dream’s brother Destruction gives up his helm and instead tries his hand at Creation.  It’s a remarkable piece as a whole and I encourage you to explore it at your leisure.]

When I say I’m a Gemini, I mean that I fit that Gemini archetype in a lot of ways. On the good side, I am dual-natured (not two-faced), adaptable, eloquent and youthful.  On the bad side, I do struggle with my ego, I can be inconsistent, and a few other things I’m not too comfortable discussing here..  I am a Gemini in so many ways that it’s hard to not wonder what effect Mercury’s retrograde might have had on the big life plans I have in the works.

The most significant realizations that I have drawn out of my 30 years of being a Gemini have had to do with cosmic duality and balance.  We are constantly exposed to opposing forces such as night/day, light/dark, good/evil, life/death, heaven/hell, happy/sad.  Our culture is saturated with ideological conflicts between whites/blacks, democrats/republicans, anti-this/pro-that, etc. but the trouble is that it boils down too many of the nuances that make being a human being special.

As a child, I had a lot of trouble with anxiety (I still do, but I used to, too).  Looking back, I can identify the on-going conflicts and ever-changing relationships between my mother and her brother and sisters and their mother.  Once, a bout between my grandmother and an aunt that my mother was not on speaking terms with sent that aunt crying into my mother’s arms and I can specifically remember saying to myself “I thought Aunt So-and-So was the bad guy.”  I felt like there needed to be that distinction between the people I could trust and those I could not.  I had oversimplified those relationships and oversimplifying human interactions is rarely a good thing.

On the flip side of the coin (pun intended, you’ll see), I am also reminded of the dangers of under-simplification that were present in the graphic novel Batman: Arkham Asylum written by Grant Morrison [who did some work on the Sandman series] and illustrated by Dave McKean (two of my favorites).  In the story, Two Face (one source has his birthday on June 12th, making him a Gemini) is a patient at Arkham and the therapists there are weaning him off of his notorious coin.  Instead of using the coin and choosing between two options, they transition him to a die (giving him six options to choose from), then I think a deck of cards (52 options).  I’m a little hazy on the details, but he ultimately relies on the I Ching to make his decisions, which allows for a completely unreasonable amount of choices for something as simple as whether or not to go to the restroom.  Spoiler alert: he winds up peeing on himself.  But this is progress! the therapists say and Batman is again forced to face another duality: “sanity” vs. “insanity.”

Two Face’s coin and the I Ching are two ends of a spectrum, as are many of the dichotomies we see in our culture. I sometimes wonder if we are inherently driven to boil down grand and complex thoughts and ideas into two simple options.  It certainly makes it simpler, but it doesn’t always make it easier.  Picking sides didn’t help me to understand my family dynamic, but would understanding more about this fairly irrational have made surviving it any easier?  That, I do not know.

All of this talk about duality and balance reminds me of what might be a metaphor from one of the Ancient Greek philosophers.  Or it might just be a lyrics in a Wu Tang song.  Either way, it has always stuck with me.  The idea is that moderation is an existence between two pillars of ivory.  You sit between them, but you never touch them.  You don’t not drink, but you don’t get drunk.  You don’t eat too much or too little. You’re balanced.

Duality is strange, but, like most strange things, it’s interesting.  Think about it.  And when you fall off of that thin wire, let disaster be and aim for survival.

– Glass

P.S. I have another interesting thought on balance that I would like to share.  I didn’t include it in the body of the post because it deals with a 3 not a 2.  I call it the Job Hunt Triangle.  I have looked for a lot of jobs in my life and these past few hunts have been exceedingly tedious because I am a father and a husband and we have a lot more stuff than we realize.  So I’ve noticed that the three main factors that affect which jobs I look for are: duties, salary, and geography.  For instance, my wife and daughter and I would love to live in the Northwest and I would love to have a job where I get to help people and not have a tyrant of a direct supervisor and I would love to make a hole bunch of money.  But, the odds of me finding a job that fit all three ideals is not incredibly likely.  So I have to compromise.  I can pick an alternative location, which there aren’t many of at this point, or I could take a job that doesn’t have the tangible, positive outcomes that I’d like to see, or I could make less money.  This explains why I’m pretty unhappy at my current job.  We aren’t in a location we’d like to be in, being a teacher isn’t what I thought it was going to be, and we don’t have a whole lot of money to work with.  If I was making more money or if we lived somewhere else, it wouldn’t be so bad, but we don’t.  And it’s hard.  Anyway.  More on that later.  Godspeed, – D. Glass

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