This blog was written for and published by Future Females | February 2019
Yin Yang. Black White. Dark Light. Day Night. Male Female. Birth Death. Good Evil.
In Chinese mythology, Yin and Yang were born from chaos when the universe was first created and they are believed to exist in harmony at the centre of the Earth. During the creation, their achievement of balance in the cosmic egg allowed for the birth of Pangu (or P’an ku), the first human. In addition, the first gods Fuxi, Nuwa and Shennong were born from Yin and Yang.
Yin Yang is an excellent interpretation of life and how each action, characteristic, and aspect has an opposite that is its equal. One cannot exist without the other. This requires a positive and a negative to complete the whole. Therefore, equilibrium or balance.
Whether you believe in Yin Yang or not, the need for balance and the existence of these two forces being present in everything, is as undeniable as gravity. None of us are pure evil or pure good. But, depending on what you feed, the one can and will overpower the other. In old spy movies, the clichéd seen of the terrible villain stroking his darling cat with a gloved hand became all too familiar. The dude wants to take over the world by killing everyone else in it, but for him and his darling kitty. Very terrible men and women in history had the ability to love greatly and the most amazing, peaceful people have done terrible things.
I was introduced to a little Dutch book called “Koning van Katoren” (King of Katoren), written in 1971 by Jan Terlow when I was a child. In the story, a young man – Stach – solves various seemingly unsolvable problems across the land of Katoren, to eventually become king. One of these towns is called Equilibria, in which a sorcerer, named Pantaar, visits one home at random each night and to whoever opens the door, he demands a donation. But, there’s a trick. You cannot give a random few coins or a loaf of bread – you must give him something which has great meaning to you. A sacrifice. And don’t think of deceiving the old timer: he knows the minute you give him something worthless and then he gets the opportunity of choosing your most prized possession himself.
The town, being petrified of Pantaar, is eventually rescued by Stach, who is kidnapped by the old man as a sacrifice. Stach learns that the town has been cursed and that the old man is forced to stoke a magical fire each night. The fire demands sacrifices and without them, Equilibria will disappear into an abyss.
In each fairytale is a trick, as you well know, and it so happens that a willing sacrifice to the magical fire will forever restore equilibrium to the town. Stach, our hero, of course decides to sacrifice himself for the good of thousands. In a plot twist, the old sorcerer jumps into the fire, ending the curse on the town and his own miserable existence.
What was Jan trying to say all those years ago, kids? Profoundly, that equilibrium is maintained by quid pro quo – a favour or advantage in return for something else.
The real modern fairy tale is putting up a brave face, believing that you can do everything and be everything to everyone, great wealth brings ultimate happiness and perception is perfection. No Sir-ree Bob. You just bumped over your Yin Yang circle and it’s rolling down the hill, mixing the black and white sides into miserable grey.
But is balance attainable? Are we not just putting pressure on people to feel more depressed on not achieving yet another unattainable goal? The trick is not to try and keep all the balls in the air, it’s to decide which ones are truly important and letting the other ones go.
Introducing a softer approach into an aggressive situation, phrasing words differently, deciding to focus on things that nourish you, rather than destroy or starve you. Walking away from a toxic relationship or employer. Little steps towards great strides in equilibrium.