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Appreciating the Contrasts in Your Life

I looked up at the sky — the ever changing sky — and all I saw was blue. Not the vivid, almost indigo of the Med or West Coast, but an Irish blue, a sky blue, a high and light and airy blue, reaching upwards, never-ending.

Then against that blue was a white, ever changing also — mare’s tails and swirling mists, banks of fluffy pillows. It made the blue so beautiful and easy to appreciate. This contrast, this richness, this see what is possible-ness.

And it came to me as a sort of epiphany, a revelation out of the ordinary (or was it the extraordinary)? That’s how our lives work too. It’s only through the contrast that we appreciate the beauty, but we’re often blind to it.

Consider the sacred experience of getting well after being sick. It doesn’t even have to be a major illness. A twenty-four hour bug is sufficient wretchedness. In the throes of it you question yourself — why oh why did I never understand how wonderful it is just to feel normal? And we crave that ‘normality’. The extraordinary normality of life, so commonly taken for granted. When the sickness passes and we are well again, what joy, what relief, what gratitude! It might last a day, maybe a bit more, until we’re back to square one again, our usual unappreciative, take-it-for-granted-self. Or perhaps it’s just me …

In a similar way, you don’t know what job is right for you until you’ve served your time in the office from hell or the big shop of horrors or the restaurant that hygiene forgot. And you don’t know who you want to work alongside until you’ve suffered under the auspices of psycho boss or office b***h. (My answer: no one, thanks).

And how can you meet your froggy prince or princess until you’ve kissed your share of wart-ridden toads or toad-ettes? (Warts can come in many guises — behavioural and psychological).

Is that what missing people is all about? The contrast? They are here and then they are gone. When they were there they were scarcely noticed, or even slightly irritating. But when they go they leave a void that fills up with your love for them.

The biggest contrast of all — that between life and death. It can be the famous of our world: John Lennon, Robin Williams, Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury. We don’t know how precious they are to the Earth until they are gone from it. How is it we don’t realize how great they are until they are no longer here? Like a veil being lifted from our eyes. In the words of the poet, e.e. cummings:


Now the eyes of my eyes are opened.

Yet this is still nothing compared to the death of a loved one. The contrast between them being here and them being gone leaves the greatest ache of all. If we are lucky, it can be soothed by time and the salve of a hundred happy memories.

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Contrasts abound.

The ice cold water as it trickles down the back of a parched throat. The first mouthful of food as it reaches down into a ravenous stomach. A warm blanket on a cold day, coming in from the snow to a crackling log fire and a bowl of hot,creamy tomato soup.

It is the contrasts that show us our wants and enable us to feel our gratitude.

Allow us to appreciate the world in all its myriad magnificence.