Wrestling with it is good.
Tension is necessary.
If we believe there is value in the conflict (often perceived as “darkness” when we’re in it), be it internal or external, it not only is bearable, the struggle will have meaning.
We are meaning-making beings after all.
And my goodness, doesn’t this show up EVERYWHERE?! If something comes easy, we often don’t value it as much. If our hip flexors weren’t at least somewhat tight, we’d be limp noodles. If our muscles and bones didn’t get pressure from movement and exercise, we’d actually be weaker. If our intellect is never challenged, we’re simply not as sharp. Etc, etc, etc.
“Thus it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensible to mental well-being. We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging a man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill. It is only thus that we evoke his will to meaning from its state of latency.
I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium, or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state.
What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together. So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward the meaning of one’s life.”
I promise I wont quote lengthy passages from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, forever, but this week, my writing is focused on his because it’s so darn rich!
Look, if you’re a more visual person when it comes to metaphor usage, take a real gander at a sunset sometime.
Why do sunsets have such universal appeal?
They have both light and dark. It is a place of transition, one could argue tension (the light and the dark fighting against one another). A journey from one place to another. We watch in awe and wonder.
And the tension is required to create the beauty.
Et Lux in tenebris lucet
Just for fun, alternate titles included:
– Wrestle Mania
– Tension is NECESSARY
– More About the Light and Dark
– The Struggle is Real (and it’s OK)
*Photo from my trip to Croatia in 2014, Korčula Island.