Monday, September 29, 2014

A Zero-Sum Game

I grew up with salt air in my lungs, and the sight of the ocean rejuvenates me. Last Friday I decided not to pretend I had something to work on, and took myself to the seashore, skin cancer be damned. I went to the stretch of Santa Monica Beach just south of the pier for a change, rather than that a mile north of it, where my mom used to take me when I was three, and do you know what it was? Absolutely heavenly. The soft, warm breeze was a caress. The water glittered, and made the most beautiful music as it swept onto the shore. 
Everywhere around me, people were beaming, as how could they not? I went for a long walk, and smiled at the young parents building sand castles with their kids, or holding the little ones’ hands as they ventured just a wee bit farther into the gorgeous ocean. I remembered how sublime it is to have your child depend on you like that. 

There are a great many things I can’t do, but perceive beauty or experience pleasure aren’t two of them. The problem is that I’m so aware of their opposites. As I write this, life looks to me like a zero-sum game, with every bit of beauty countered by equivalent ugliness, every bit of joy cancelled out by comparable despair.
I recognize that the only sensible strategy for living in the world is to rejoice in the one and try to ignore the other, and there have been stretches when I’ve been able to do exactly that. 

How very brief those stretches have seemed lately.


  1. Having always been one to "think globally," converting to the Buddhist path years ago really helped me learn to find a better balance. However, to this day the topic of your post remains my biggest challenge. I've always been one who feels suffering deeply. I've come to accept this is who I am, but being able to balance it is an entirely different story. I'm really looking forward to your future blog posts. You are a beautiful human being. Thank you for being so brave to share your experience. The ripple effect will be tremendous. ��

  2. That's the thing. Things are in equal parts. Joy, despair, beauty, ugliness. But that doesn't mean they cancel each other out. Joy is still there. Beauty is still there. I try and hold onto these feelings a bit longer each time I am actually aware I am experiencing it.