See Both Sides

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.

Let’s learn to see both sides, now.