Saturday, August 16, 2008

yin yang shoes

Taoists say: Nothing is created without opposing forces, or something like that.

These are both pairs of Paris shoes. Oh, look at that,
'p-a-i-r-s' and 'P-a-r-i-s' have the same letters.

The black pair I bought in Paris in 2003 when Don and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. The trekkers I bought for Paris in 2006 when I stomped around with my camera for a week alone to celebrate my 50th birthday.

I like the flirty appeal of pointy toes and high heels, and I like the comfort of round toes and arch supported flat ones. Big cities pull me in, and so do mountains. The cool feel of smooth white sheets in a hotel is a luxury I love, but I also relish the warm flannel of a sleeping bag in a tent. Dressing up fancy for the symphony is something to look forward to, but let me wear my thick ugly soft grey robe on the couch with my laptop every morning. I appreciate fashion for its beauty, but I hate it for its consumerism and planned obsolescence. I live to communicate with people, but I also love to be alone with my thoughts, books, a pen and a notebook. Don and I get a big kick out of chickens, but Sherwood Anderson's narrator in 'The Egg' would have liked to kick them.

I'm learning to tolerate my own discrepancies, and those of others, and also how their opinions might conflict with my own. I'm trying to balance skepticism with open-mindedness. I want to recognize that I am a sometimes chaotic mess of contrary opinions and perspectives, and so is almost everyone else. I resist fitting into categories. I no longer want to fix everything, or to find self worth in what I accomplish or in how people view me. I'm learning to be suspicious of my biases, and not treat them as good or bad, right or wrong.

Tolerance is one thing, and it's good I think. Yet it sounds pretty passive. What if these tensions and opposing forces actually create something new and better? Maybe allowing them to co-exist is the first step. Looking for ways to carve out new territory from there is maybe the next.

Please don't ask me what this means for two pair of Paris shoes. I haven't got a clue. Maybe you do.

Anyway, I do know one new thing that's been created out of seemingly opposing forces. I used to write poetry. When the photography bug bit me, poetry took a back seat, I had no energy for it. I'd open my notebook and sit staring out the window, but nothing would come - except photos that wanted to be taken. So my notebook sat in a pile under the camera bag. Suddenly last month it occurred to me (after going to the county fair and taking pictures) that the photographs themselves could be prompts for writing. Voila! The two 'opposing' forces came together like magic.


Loring Wirbel said...

My daddy had his own version of Zen when he would talk about "The Art of Suspended Judgment," his own update of the Christian dictum on judging. It used to infuriate me when I was younger. I appreciate it more now, but I still remind him that there is equal truth in the famous saying that "not to decide is to decide."

Zen, like our typical ways of practicing tolerance, does indeed tend to be passive. Maybe something better would be "passionate inclusion." My own limits of tolerance come in trying to include those who insist on steering others their way. How can you be tolerant for the intolerant? The big tent doesn't stretch that far.

But in most other cases, I enjoy bringing in diametrically opposed elements into the whole. The end result, like poetry from photography, is Big Synthesis, hence the name of your blog.

A source for endless mirth is the people in many spheres who think that mere contact with The Other will contaminate them. Fundamentalists and Atheists. Rich and Poor. Doctrinaires and the Doctrine-Free. Ruth, you're a big Joni Mitchell fan, that's why I've always liked her song "The Boho Dance," which brings us back to the two pair of shoes. She's chiding someone for treating poverty as the only legitimate path to artistic integrity, when dressing up for a formal ball can be fun.

Sandy said...

hmmmmm....much food for contemplation here. I'll have some eggs please.

Opposing forces....that is totally my life and like the fish in the ocean who is looking for water, I'm too close to my oppositions to be able to view them from an observer point of view. Where's the conflict, I don't see it... It's got to be here somewhere, or maybe not, but then again, ...

You know looking at your Paris shoes, I have never ever ever in my life, ever, worn a pair of high heels. I always thought my height
at 5'11", was tall enough. I always envied those who could wear them. Besides, I use to buy my shoes in regular width and always wondered why my feet hurt. I have at least 50 pairs of nice shoes that I can't wear. It wasn't until I was older like a few years ago, I realized I wore a wide width. ...and now I just don't care about having nice pointy toe shoes. But I can sure appreciate looking at your Paris
I do prefer those comfy ones though.

I use to write poetry, just funny silly stuff, and it would always happen when my hands were in warm water, bathing kids, doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and I would have to stop and write them out. Why the warm water??

I'm glad you got the photography bug...

By the way I'm loving your photos at Flying, I just don't comment because it never "holds" my info and I'm too lazy to have to key it all in...

I like your new banner too.

Auntie Sandy (in conflict as I write) (Conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests) oh yeah!!

Rauf said...

1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Ruth, this is the noble eightfold path.
You know exactly what i am doing now., yes you guessed it right. i am scratching my head, like a monkey ofcourse, i have no style Ruth.
Why am i scratching my head ?
The problem here with this noble eight fold path is,
your 'right' could be my wrong,
your 'right' could be my left.
So there can never be peace in this world. If all 'rights' are same for every one, this world would become as boring as paradise, and i don't want to live there. You know how i appreciate Eve for her courage for plunging her lovely teeth into the fruit of knowledge, thus bringing the downfall of man. She brought us into this wonderful and interesting world of contradictions.

i am a bundle of contradictions myself.
i talk about pollution, damage to the planet, bad contaminated food and water, at the same time i talk about how the quality of life has improved.

A hundred years ago with clean air water, organic food, there was hardly any one over 100 years of age in the US, today with all the polluted air water, bad food, there are over 50,000 people who have crossed 100 still living.

Your shoes tell me about spiritual happiness. You can't have spiritual happiness wearing bad shoes or walking barefoot, or wearing ill fitting clothes you don't like.
i do not know what is material and what is spiritual happiness Ruth.
A smile of a child and a song on my iPOD is the same to me.

Gwen Buchanan said...

You said it all Ruth... Very thoughtful!

and the shoes are perfect... Paris...Pairs...

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts here. I am a living contradiction myself. It's so refreshing, yet frustrating, to read my own unrecognized thoughts in someone else's writing. I FEEL these things, yet am unable to put them into words. Thank goodness for people such as you who CAN.

Sharon said...

I love this image. The gray scale dramatically forces the eyes to absorb the contrasts, visually and metaphorically. It is almost as if each pair is a totally different animal altogether.........yet they're really just footwear; protective, empty, expectant. It's so great that you are feeling a connection between your written and visual work. How exciting if they begin to energize and feed each other.

I agree with Loring above that there is room in the tent for everyone's ideas as long as we don't force them down each other's throats. Personally, I worry about anyone who is too neatly packaged and without loose ends. :)

shicat said...

Reads like your fifty .... It's a lovely place to be, full of contradictions and absurdities,wonderful and free,like your 10 or 12 but with some wisdom. Loved reading, I'm there with you.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Love this post Ruth :) The shoes are a wonderful reflection of your personality.

Ruth said...

Loring, 'passionate inclusion' sounds right and good (oh dear 'right' and 'good' again).

I have the LP of 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns' and never listened to it. Lesley gave it to me after we no longer had a turntable. I don't have the CD. Anyway, I had never listened to 'The Boho Dance' until just now on iTunes. Thanks. Yeah, I've always liked Joni's honesty about her love of lace, fine rooms, expensive perfume and grand pianos.

I agree it's very difficult to tolerate intolerance. But what's the alternative? People still have to make their own choices. But it makes me sad.

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy, quail or chicken?

Maybe you've accepted the oppositions and that's why you don't see them? That's cool.

Oh god, uncomfortable shoes. My dad, a frugal man from the get go, believed in buying the best quality in two things: mattresses and shoes. You spend 1/3 of your life in the former and 2/3 of your life in the latter.

Funny about the warm water. I'm guessing that when you'r doing those things in warm water, you aren't thinking. Then your mind has the necessary space to be creative, and poems appear.

I'm glad you love the flying photos, and it's nice to know you visit, whether you leave a comment or not. Yeah, I know, don't know why it suddenly doesn't save the comment info any more - it's happening for me everywhere too.

Ruth said...

rauf, ooohhh those are some good examples of contradictions. And yes, I've read what you've written about your own contradictions since I began reading Daylight Again, and this has helped me open up to my own. That is a gift, and I thank you.

It used to boggle my mind that you could express yourself so strongly on a topic like mother earth and the environment, and then demonstrate such receptivity to differing views from your commenters and even change your view if it was warranted. I was so attached to my own views then that I couldn't understand that ability. I think I've evolved! Yay!

Again, thank you for that light.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Gwen.

+ + +

Amy, that is very good. I feel that way ALL THE TIME, especially when I read poets like Mary Oliver and Anne Michaels. There is a recognition, like looking in the mirror - it was always there but I didn't know even to express it, and it feels better knowing someone else also feels it.

+ + +

Sharon, you're right, these shoes are opposite in just about every way possible. About the writing and photos, yeah, now it feels like a big hurdle is behind me, and the daily recognition of how they feed each other is like a new joy! These things can have a long gestation, and when the birth happens it feels GREAT.

Yep, the ones who are too neatly packaged just aren't aware of their loose ends, right?

Ruth said...

Hi Shicat! Welcome to synchronizing. Well, I'm almost 52, and I wouldn't go back for anything. Not that I wouldn't mind not having this hitch in my hip . . .

Thanks so much for visiting and leaving your nice comment.

+ + +

Drowsey! Thank you.

Anet said...

Great post Ruth, ying/yang shoes!
I would have to wear the white ones as my flat feet scream at me if I even think about styling them up. I can't wait for 50!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth, I forgot to mention, coincidentally a new resident of the village has plans to create a yin and yang garden done in black and white.. She is quite an extrovert/gardener/landscaper and I can't wait to see what she does... won't be till next year though..

also... both pair of shoes I would gladly wear!!! But I take a size 10...

... I truly loved this post... it tells so much about you...

We just spent 2 long days roaming a giant flea market of 450 booths... about 45 min. away in Sussex... everything you can imagine...

scorching, melting, dusty one day...
cold, pouring rain, mucky the next...

and my feet sorely wish for pampering now!!

To our surprise, the first day we saw a cast iron book press there and sadly left it behind... When we got home, we kept thinking of the usefulness of good solid tools and where would we ever find one of those again!! and what we could have done with it...

... it made us go back the next day thinking for sure it would have been picked up by one of the masses of people attending... but when we returned ... we were ecstatic to see it still there.. I made a bargain with the antique dealer and it came home with us... Whooo-Hooo!! Made my day!! When fall/winter comes I am going to make use of it... Good thing John was there to carry it.. it weighed over 70 lbs...

Ruth said...

Anet, it's cool that you are looking forward to 50! Not many women say that. My mom always had a positive perspective on aging, and that has stuck with me.

+ + +

Gwen! Mmmm.

The zen garden - so it will be black and white features among the plantings? I hope you will photograph and share it when it's completed.

The flea market sounds like heaven. And the book press, well those are works of art as well as useful. Do you use them for your homemade books, I assume? I can think of other uses too, like dried flowers. How great that it was there for you on your return. 70 lbs.! Hope to see it soon . . .

Ginnie said...

Has anyone ever approached you on writing a weekly column for the paper, Ruth? This would be one such post! Maybe you could approach them?

Ruth said...

Ha, Boots, no. A couple people have suggested it, like you here. It would be fun. Then there'd be the pressure to come up with something, but I think I would like it.