On the one hand, it's vital that we see difficult times - those times of "tension" - as good friends who bring us the gifts we need to grow. Every obstacle, both inner and outer, is an opportunity to learn and grow. But recently, even beyond the need to grow, I've been feeling more and more as if our lives are like art. In a post from a couple of days ago Wrestling with angels, I wrote the following, which I felt was so meaningful that I changed this blog's subheader to include it.
Tension and ReleaseAll great music has the pattern of “tension and release.” This process creates a main theme, and then starts to intensify by adding intervals (scale music notes) to reach a state of tension, and then gives a release. This creates interest and complexity in the composition.Likewise, in our spiritual path there are added obstacles to create a feeling of tension in the form of uneasiness, or abandonment, which causes us to seek and search out the reason for this feeling. Then, we build up a desire once again for that closeness, and oneness with the Divine, and the feeling of “bliss” returns. This is the natural process of transformation
The point isn't the having or the getting, but the wanting, the feeling. It's like making great art... or appreciating it. What matters are the feelings you experience, and the way that experience alters you; deepens your connection to yourself, to others, and to life. So one can say that our lives themselves are a great art.The soul is not the ego - in many ways it stands opposed to the ego. The purpose of the ego is to protect the self. The purpose of the soul is to live, to experience, to feel deeply. While we need the ego to survive, if it gains control of our mind, our lives are reduced to small, petty, fear filled things. The ego is a great servant, but a terrible master - we need it to survive, but it must be subordinate to the parts of us that have a larger picture of life.
Times of difficulty are both opportunities for us to release ego fear and ego defensiveness, unburying true inner selves... but they are also of value in and of themselves. We go to great art to be moved - all of our feelings, not just the pretty ones. When an art form shies away from the painful feelings, we call it "saccharine," "artificial," "shallow." In order for our lives to be rich, full of meaning and depth, we need the difficult times as well as the easy ones, the pain as well as the joy. That pain not only makes our joy more intense, it is itself something our soul craves, as the soul desires above all to live a full, human life.
Something else I thought of that follows tension and then release patterns: sneezing. And sex. Actually, many things related to the body follow that pattern.