Two weeks ago, inspired by the movie Don’t Look Up, a good friend of mine, Michelle Ashen, started a #LookUp campaign to encourage people to live a more present life. Yesterday, I wrote about ‘looking back.’ And today, at a first ‘live’ concert I have attended since the onset of the pandemic two years ago, I can’t help pondering about ‘looking from up and down.’
Although the evening was primarily a performance of original compositions by singer-songwriter Michelle SgP, she serendipitously opened with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides, Now.’
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all …
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love …
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.
There are several interpretations of this song. For me, it’s akin to the journey of maturation, from naïve idealism to realistic optimism, from seeing only from one perspective to seeing from the opposite side or even multiple alternative vantage points. A gradual evolution from a monistic to a pluralistic view of the world.
For a start, it’s probably helpful to see both sides. That which brings joy can also be a source of hurt. Good and evil, light and darkness, give and take, winning and losing, novelty and familiarity, change and stability, idealism and realism, joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, success and failures, stillness and movement, reality and illusion – they are two sides of the same coin.
It’s often been said that looking back is pointless, as it isn’t going to change anything. Life has got be lived forward. Although unchangeable, the past is a treasure trove of wisdom, resources, and experiences. Wouldn’t it be foolish to overlook these gems of life? What if we looked back wisely?
Look back to connect the dots and make sense of the past, not to find the path for the future.
Look back to be glad of the path that has led you here, not to regret over missed opportunities.
Look back to learn from failures and mistakes, not to beat yourself up.
Look back to forgive yourself of wrong doings, not to drown in shame or guilt.
Look back to grateful for what is gained, not to lament over what is lost.
Look back to cherish your memories, not to hold onto them forever.
Look back to accept what has happened, not to wish that it was different.
Look back to celebrate how far you have come, not to worry about how for more you need to go.
Look back to count your blessings, not to cry over your misfortunes.
Look back to appreciate those who brought you comfort or joy, not to resent those who have caused you sorrow or pain.
Intentions, intentions, intentions. Don’t we think we always act out of good intentions?
But having good intentions simply isn’t enough. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
We are judged by others not by our intentions, no matter how noble they might be, but by our actions and the impact of our actions.
Intention and action are equally important and inseparable partners in the dance of manifestation. Without action, intention remains a latent potential. And without appropriate action, the impact is seldom as intended.
Let your intentions be pure and clear, your actions deliberate and appropriate, and the world gains from the impact of your existence.
“When your intention is clear, so is the way.” ~ Alan Cohen
We are born without any hereditary beliefs. All the beliefs we possess now were acquired over time. Beliefs are what we hold to be true. We see the world and make interpretations of what we see through the filters of our beliefs.
We cannot not have beliefs. Life wouldn’t work without them. However, at times, our lives don’t work because of them too.
Consider beliefs as ‘bricks’ that we pick up along our journey through life. With each brick, we construct or expand a structure to make sense of and navigate the world. We can build a castle, a wall, a bridge, or anything imaginable.
A ‘wall’ is used to separate what’s connected. It divides. Over time, that which began as one grows into distinct parts. A ‘bridge’ connects the separated. It provides access from one side to another, enables mutual exchange and shaping of shared understanding. It enables the discovery of a common ground that could pave the way for that which are separated to become somewhat whole again.
Walls and bridges are both necessary, and there will always new bricks. How we use them has a profound impact on our lives.
At times, we need to loosen some of the bricks in our walls, hold some beliefs lightly, let in new ideas even if they contradict or challenge our existing beliefs, and build more bridges.