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On a recent drive home, I observed a marriage in the sky. Light and dark, blurring into one another, the white announcing its presence, while the grey forms a backstory. I’ve contemplated the pendulum between happiness and light and sadness and darkness in this space numerous times. The undercurrent of it is disarming; the awareness of how a single instant can change the perimeter of your life is a terrifying prospect.

This witnessing of light and dark brought to mind a passage I wrote last year describing the transitions between summer and fall. When I contemplate the transition between seasons, I think of the beauty and burden of light and its shadow. Sometimes I stand in the pathway of unexpected sorrow, and then, in the next second, a parade of happiness marches through, like an unreliable narrator who takes over the plot even before you understand the story. Navigating the transitions between these two emotions is treacherous terrain since there is little identifiable rhythm.

I still feel the coarse terrain, knowing not only that sadness is inevitable, but now I also understand more acutely how much happiness will always be a part of the path as well. It’s trying to reconcile the space in between which always proves difficult and taxing. When I am in the midst of happiness or contentment, I never want it to end. But yet, it does. In the belly of melancholy, I plead for light. I understand how much each emotion is transient – one will always give into the other, sometimes with very little warning.

As I’ve said before, with conscious effort, I strive to harness both sadness and happiness. The sadness is on the fringe always, but the joy, an abundance of it is hovering, like a guide leading me through the darkness. When I do experience this joy, I acknowledge it. In some ways I try to bottle it up, like a genie, calling on it in times of restlessness and anxiety.

This reflection and the pairing of light and dark reminded me of Leo Tolstoy’s words: “There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy. It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness and despair, showing the possibility of consolation.” And maybe that is it. The anchor in-between the melancholy and happiness is the space where the unexpected or expected throws you into the dark or catapults you into light. This is, I believe, how it is meant to be – standing in the light and dark and understanding neither persists on its own. When one is present, the other is too.

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