“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…”

PhoWe welcomed the Lunar New Year this week in true Vietnamese style! We had Pho for dinner and many other traditional foods that I picked up at the Asian market on my lunch break. With every passing year, the Shaw family is embracing the Vietnamese culture to ensure that Mason’s childhood is reminiscent of his country and their traditions.

Personally, I welcomed the New Year with open arms. Every astrological blog post and website I came across talks about the shifting energy in the universe and the power of the Supermoon and New Year. I don’t know a lot about that stuff, but I could certainly feel its energy. To say that 2013 was a difficult year for me would be an understatement. It was a year of painful transition in many areas of my life.

The New Year signifies a new start. It is the beginning of a new mindset. With that said, it is evident that with any new beginning, you also have awareness of what you leave behind. An ending is bittersweet, in that you welcome what is to come, but it is not without some degree of mourning what you leave behind.

Mason sweeping out the bad energy of the old year
Mason sweeping out the bad energy of the old year

That invisible line in the sand somehow differentiates the old from the new, but it allows us to move forward with a clean slate. As we all do, I hope this year brings our family health, happiness and prosperity. Simply put, to retain happiness and love in our lives and refrain from feelings of unhappiness and fear. There is nothing original with this wish. It is a universal idea with the beginning of any new year.

However, as I reflect on my aversion of all that’s “bad” and my welcoming of all that’s “good”, I stumbled on an idea that stayed with me for a while. It’s not a new concept, but one that makes a lot of sense considering the significance of this passing of this year.

Just as we come to know “light” with its opposite, “darkness”, how can we ever really understand anything without experiencing the opposing emotion? Said differently, the overwhelming love you have for your child is met with overwhelming pain when he gets hurt. The broken heart you experience, only after you know what it is like to truly love someone. There is polarity in everything.

NYEIf we really want to welcome “good” things in our lives, then we must experience the pain and heartache that comes along with it. The opposing feelings are just two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. In other words, the idea of having only good things in our lives is impossible. We must have both.

I think our resistance to this idea is the reason we suffer so much. We think that life should be full of good news. We have unrealistic expectations and the degree to which we suffer is the degree to which we resist this fact.  Maybe if we just could embrace this truth, that life should be really messy, then maybe we could handle it when bad stuff “randomly” pops up in our lives.

If we want to have love in our lives, then we must accept that it will bring us pain; a lot of pain. If we want to have a good career, then we also have to accept that there will be suffering (eg: pressure, fear, humiliation, etc…). If we want to have money, then we should accept that it will take time and energy away from other things that we love.

If I knew before adopting Mason how much it would hurt to go through that process, would I have chosen to not adopt at all? If I knew how much it would hurt to watch loved ones leave my life or pass away, would I have chosen, instead, to not have them in my lives at all? Of course not! I would choose it all, over and over again, if it meant that I was to experience love. Nothing comes to us without a price. Sometimes these things are subtle, but they are there.

So as we welcome the New Year, I think we need to remember that there is a purpose with every good thing and with every challenge we experience. Rather than rejecting those “bad” things that come, we need to reflect on why they are there and what opposing emotions brought them to us (eg: love). If we just walk around being indifferent and neutral to everyone and everything in our lives, would that be a life worth living? No, I think most of us would choose the life that is full of love and compassion, full of energy and emotion, even if that means that we will experience pain.

I know I will.

“The shortest interval between two points is the awareness that they are not two.” ~ Eric Micha’el Leventhal

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