The weather this year has been crazy. First we had months of rain, now we’re baking in the heat. I’m glad to live where the weather changes from season to season, from day to day. There’s something about contrast that enables us to appreciate something…or someone, afresh. Confucius said, ‘If the land was always filled with sunshine, it would soon turn to desert.’ How right he was. A life without diversity, without contrasting experiences, would feel bland and boring and lack perspective.
Take, for instance, any type of food that you really love, that gives you greatest pleasure. Now imagine eating that same food for every meal for the rest of your life. Every day, every meal, same thing, day in, day out. Or imagine listening to your favourite album all the time. Just one album, same sound, same lyrics, no change…ever. The expression ‘too much of a good thing' comes to mind. It’s as if we need contrast and variety to truly enjoy and appreciate something, anything.
Perhaps there’s a point here, a truth embedded deeply in the human psyche, that should cause us to pause and reflect. Next time something or someone doesn’t meet our hopes or expectations, perhaps it can help us to appreciate more when something or someone else does. Perhaps our disappointments and failures can provide a backdrop that helps our successes shine more brightly. Perhaps our experiences of godlessness can help us appreciate those times when God feels near.
A friend jokes ironically, ‘every silver lining has a cloud’. It’s as if no matter how good things are in the moment, there’s a shadow side or it won’t last. There will always be a change in the weather, the mood, the circumstances that surround us. Perhaps, paradoxically, there’s a dimension of hope in this, an opportunity to reflect on what matters most to us, on our transient human life and experience, and to discover richer veins of happiness than we would ever have thought possible.
Nick is a psychological coach, OD consultant and trainer, specialising in critical reflective practice.