After all the startling color of yesterday's sunrise, this morning's fog might have seemed dull; anticlimactic. But I find the beauty of the fog every bit as riveting as that of the sunrise (translate: I am just as likely to run for my camera); the simplicity of this view every bit as compelling as the colorful complexity of yesterday's clouds.
The young woman who was visiting us yesterday was thrilled with the number of gloomy days she had encountered during her visit to the northwest, and is seriously considering moving here just to get more of that, which feels like balm to her soul. But then, she's from Los Angeles; I can easily imagine that a steady diet of sunshine and palm trees might prove wearing after a bit -- just as a steady diet of gray and rain can get to us northwesterners.
It's really a matter of balance, isn't it -- clearly some of us have a preference for one or the other, but I think we can safely say everyone, all creation, even, needs at least a little of both: darkness and light, gray and color, sorrow and joy, adventure and calm, unfamiliar and familiar, challenging and easy...
Which somehow brings me round to a discussion we had this morning about the story of Kerri Strug, the Olympic gymnast who impressed us all in 1996 with the phenomenal vault that left her on her knees and ended her olympic career while ensuring an American gold medal. "She won that medal before she even started the run for that last vault," said my friend, "because she was able to turn off that part of herself that is devoted to self-preservation."
Is that a good thing? I confess I frequently wish I had a dimmer switch for that instinct in me; I think it tends to be a bit hyperactive, and if I could tone it down I think I would attempt more -- especially on a physical level. And, in fact, that's been the gift of Pilates class: I have come to understand that many twinges of pain which used to feel terminal -- as in, Oh God, I've done something to my back and I may be paralyzed for life -- can now be more realistically interpreted as, "Ooh, there's a muscle that might need a little stretching."
So here, as elsewhere, balance has come in handy -- I've learned to balance that hyperactive instinct for self-preservation with an understanding of how much healing capacity our bodies -- and lives -- really have. But to achieve that balance I had to step a little out of my comfort zone. And I was only able to do that when I found an instructor and a situation I could trust; someone who knew enough about me not to demand more than I was capable of giving.
So now I wonder -- do we need some measure of trust in order to achieve a sense of balance? Do I need to stand beside my dresser, knowing I can grab on if I start to fall, in order to get better at balancing on one foot? It feels like I might be on to something here.
If something is off balance, what fall is it that I'm afraid of? What keeps me from making the necessary adjustments? And what is it I need to learn to trust in order to take those necessary risks?