Yin Yang

We had special guests last weekend. Alison’s sister, Felice, and her friend Danielle. We poked around Linz together, and visited Salzburg for a day. It was fun.

Now that Felice and Danielle are back in sunny California we are back to our daily routine.

The routine looks like this. Wake up at 6. Make breakfast and lunch. Commute 25 minutes on a tram. Say goodbye to the kids. Have a cup of coffee as husband and wife. Speed walk back home (Alison) and go to work (Matt).

We reconvene every night. Dinner. Homework. Maybe an episode of Modern Family. Dishes. Cat food. Recycling. Laundry. Then sleep. Sort of. Alison, Zoe and I don’t do that very well. Anxiety maybe.

After many weeks of the routine we see that our new life looks something like our old life. Yet harder. Over morning coffee we remind ourselves of the good things.

The weather is good. Reminds us of fall in New England. Wear a sweatshirt, maybe a jacket, but no hat or gloves. Perfect for a jog, or a walk, along the river.

My job is good. The company and the product are impressive. The people at work are smart and very kind.

The kids are good. Fitting in at school. Doing their homework. This huge change has left them intact — nothing shattered or broken.

That’s the good stuff. Offsets the bad stuff. But these are stupid words. Fairy tale words. So much is subjective. And we are left here to make sense of things.

Fortunately there are people — authors — who can bail us out. Jordan Peterson — the controversial (extreme) psychologist-podcaster-author-traditionalist is one of them. For me at least. He’s not for everyone.

Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life, an Antidote to Chaos is my canary in the coal mine. If I reach for this book I am trying to figure things out. This is the fifth or sixth time I’ve cracked it.

Instead of good vs. bad, Peterson describes our experiences on a spectrum of chaos and order. What I like about this, beyond the thousands of examples he uses, is how closely related and indistinguishable these two sides can be. Stalin and Hitler sought complete order (this is my example, not his). And they did that by unleashing complete chaos. Both ends of the spectrum at once. Like Yin / Yang balance and harmony. White dot in the black. Black dot in the white.