To ‘juxtapose’ is to place two very dissimilar things together. A swimming pool in the middle of the desert. A slum surrounded by ultra-luxury apartments. Laurel and Hardy walking together. A priest holding a gun. Artists use such contrast as a tool to push their audience to question their ideas of what is ‘normal’.
Our senses are not used to coping with extremes. Extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme pain, extreme sadness, or even extreme happiness, throw us off balance. Most of our life lies somewhere in the middle ranges. Things usually move along ‘normally’. Normal feels comfortable as it doesn’t put any strain on our sensory functions.
Having said that, I love that ‘kick’ that jumping off a plane or that extra spicy curry provides. I love the heightened sense of alertness brought about by watching a horror film with all the light out. Swimming on the brink of danger is exciting and exhilarating. But even these experiences, are tolerable in small doses or bursts. Sustained exposure to extreme highs can drive us crazy. It makes us numb and we start needing larger and larger doses to experience the same feeling.
On the other hand, for obvious reasons we don’t enjoy extremes on the negative side of the scale. Jealousy, anger, irritation, revenge, sadness, or loneliness give us a negative ‘kick’. These experiences are nothing but an extreme on the other side of the sensory scale. We avoid them and do everything we can to run away.
Physical, emotional, and intellectual experiences are vectors. They have magnitude and they have direction. The magnitude varies from mild to intense, and the direction varies from enjoyable and satisfying to painful and frustrating.
Often I find myself going crazy oscillating between these two sides, in a desperate attempt to ’normalise’. But rather than normalising, the oscillation often increases in frequency.
For me, the meaning of the word peace is defined not as always being in the middle range of experiences - with no detours. It is not always staying calm, or always being composed, or always saying and doing the ‘right' thing. I lose my calm. I feel sad. I feel like a failure. Sometimes I fight with my loved ones. I also feel extremely enthusiastic. I also feel extremely positive and vibrant. I feel generous and giving.
My days are a juxtaposition of experiences and emotions. The definition of a peace for me is being okay to be thrown towards these extremes every now and then, and be able to keep coming back to my center. I am slowly learning learning to accept and even enjoy the opposites and contrasts that is life.
Increasingly I find I don't hold on or get ’stuck’ to any position I take or any experience I have. I’m ready to let go and move on. I’m ready to discover what else life has in store for me. That is my peace!