Have you ever taken notice of the ongoing cycle of tension and resolve? One needs the other. In Chinese medicine, we discuss the concept of the interdependence of the seeming opposites, yin and yang. Cold cannot exist without comparing it to its opposite, heat. Darkness cannot exist without knowing light. Wetness oscillates with dryness. Sleep and wakefulness. Life requires both. Hunger gives us the impetus to feed ourselves. But we don’t remain satiated; we don’t eat once and fill the never-ending cycle of filling and emptying. Our entire systems are set up to keep this requirement going. Every body system has a corresponding “fu” organ, whose job it is to fill up and empty itself to keep the “zang” organ going. The stomach, intestines, gallbladder, urinary bladder, and the reproductive organs fill up and empty, inflate and deflate, hold and release; to keep the cycle of life going. In the same way, we look for resolution of all tension. Our muscles, lungs and heart, contract and expand. We mentally perceive a problem so we can work it out. We feel a particular emotion that we either like and want to keep, or don’t like and want to let go of. We seem to be drawn to one side of this equation. We prefer the known and aren’t usually fond of the unknown. We are drawn toward happiness and tend to turn away from sadness. We prefer health over disease; life over death; love over hate; have over have not. In reality, however, we could not and would not do without the one we move away from. When one reaches its apogee, the opposite emerges. Life ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes.

Tension, by the way, is not “bad”, it is just the other side of release. We cannot remain in a state of resolution; it is simply not possible. I recently held a conference call with past retreat participants. A few who already had their families complete discussed the recognition that babies did not cure their fertility issues. First they longed for a positive pregnancy test; then getting through the first trimester. Next resolution: birth. Then when breastfeeding could be over so they could work toward the next pregnancy test… And yet, children present, there was still an emptiness in the heart that a baby could not fill. They only thought it could when they were in the body/mindset of “infertility.” I thought of the organization RESOLVE, whose name sets up the illusion that once you get the goal, the problem will go away. It will not resolve. There is no such thing as resolution in life.

(+) naturally moves toward (-). Life longs for more of itself. It does not wish for the final resolution during love making; nor is it made to stuff in enough food that we never have to eat again; exhaust itself so it never has to exercise again; waterlog so it doesn’t have to drink; sleep so it never has to wake; have enough children so it never has to feel alone or empty again. May we all grow up and be rescued from the fairy tale illusion of happily ever after.

My husband didn’t solve the longing of my heart; nor did my children, my occupation, or anything. There is no resolve. I live in the unresolved state of the heart’s yearning for its own source. There is no problem to resolve there. I hunger, I eat, I release. I experience joy and despair. One is not better than the other, although one feels better. There is joy in the despair; despair in the joy. Here life is a paradox, not wishing to resolve itself; desiring only to experience the all of itself. Neverending. Keep this paradox as you notice your body emptying itself of menstrual blood each month; feeling hope and despair, joy and loss. Feel the agony of the longing, and feel the rightness of knowing both. As you are willing to move between the extremes, holding each of them loosely, life can move more freely, as it needs the spaciousness through which the tension of opposites can come together, and create the friction through which life emerges.