If you know me well at all, you’ll know that I love epic-ness. I love the sensations that an encounter with epic-ness leaves – you know, the kind that has your heart pumping and has you on a high, ready to take on anything, ready to go out there and forge your own way. Epic-ness has this great attribute in that it can come in many forms. Epic movies (or rather, the epic movie), music, images, quotes and phrases – they all have the power to inspire and to enrich.
But the epic moment must end; the villain must be defeated, the girl must be rescued, the final words of the phrase must leave one’s lips.
And yet life has to continue, a little sadder, a little less bright and colorful… until the next epic moment.
The problem with that though, is that most of life isn’t spent in that epic moment, isn’t spent on that mountain top with that breathtaking view. Most of life is spent in the valley. And y’know what? The valley’s a great place to be. It’s in the valley that the best topsoil is made, and hey, topsoil makes beautiful flowers right?
Jesus tells us that he came “that [we] may have life, and have it to the full”. Life wasn’t meant to be a big mystery – it was meant to be enriching, to be enjoyed, and to be fulfilling.
A fulfilling life then, is the successful ability to balance the mountaintop experiences with the valley struggles, and to see the value in both. Da Vinci wrote in his memoirs that “if you want to understand beauty, you have to understand its opposite! If you want to understand peace, you need to understand war!”
Over the years, I’ve built up a little tradition for myself. Every year over the holidays, I look back on the past year and think about the things that I’ve learned, the ways that I’ve grown and changed. I look back at all the previous years that I can remember, and take some time to reflect on it all. I realized that the most memorable and fulfilling times in life have been when things are balanced well, when the different facets of life have been given their due proportions.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that life ebbs and flows, and that just as the life of summer falls into the sleep of winter, only to be renewed and refreshed in the spring, so too do our lives have their ups and downs.
We can, however, affect the way we respond to those tides, and can make choices that encourage certain behaviors and characteristics. It’s in understanding that life needs balance, that all things have their due place – that, I believe, will get us on our way to living that full life we were meant for.
I’ll leave you with a Chinese proverb that I dug up from my quote book:
“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”