Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What 'Punctuated Equilibrium' has come to mean for me...

I'm resurfacing posts from my past blog that have been buried for years. This one is from 7/2006.....

The Yin Yang symbol has always called to me and yet it has always felt like the kitsch of the zen world- overused and trite in its connotations. Not that I didn't at a fundamental level believe in what it represents, of self-creation, of polarities and balance, of constant flow.
But there's no lesson like the one you teach yourself. And when I came to have a physical interaction with the yin-yang principle, the kind of experience where I fundamentally would from that moment on see the world differently in a way that was encapsulated in the symbol, well, my own use of it would feel more honest.

While playing with the design, I created this version in which the component parts were leapfrogging over themselves.  Once the postcard of this image was made I could put it on my wall and soon the image was entering my mental space. A realization occurred.

While movement is an aspect of the yin yang symbol,  the fish endlessly following/creating the other, I saw that the circle they create is the boundary they  are stuck within.  And so in its way there is stasis.

In this new version they are breaking out of their confines, growing and expanding.

There is another twist- the first two fish are balanced within the circle in which they exist. The third fish has no counterpart. Until its own circle is complete, it is off balance. The center of balance of the third fish is realigning itself.

I call the piece 'Punctuated Equilibrium' based on a concept in evolution in which the perspective is that there is relative stasis for quite some time and then suddenly something dramatically shifts. After a period of time a new balance is reached and the cycle begins again.

Our lives might move along with a type of balance (at least one we have learned to balance with...) and then suddenly (or perhaps not so suddenly) everything can feel thrown off. Something occurs that breaks the boundaries of who we understood ourselves to be. Its as though we are springing open, expanding, exploding. A near death moment, the ending of a relationship, the birth of a child, a vision quest experience, ecstatic realizations, traumatic circumstances. Our definition of our self shifts dramatically.

Most likely, in the period thereafter, we will feel off-balance, awkward, undefined. Until our new expansion has integrated itself into who we are, life may feel more difficult, more chaotic, less certain. Groping to understand and define our experience, we create our new center.

And when balance has been achieved...the embryo of a a new expansion is already being formed.

Change, evolution, balance within shifts. The expansions will happen- that is inevitable. What is controllable is shifting our response to be one of riding the imbalance, like a snowboarder constantly adjusting her internal balance while hurtling down a hill- essentially off-blaance. Knowing we are on that ride of imbalance is such a helpful reminder when we are in the midst of the chaos. Balance will always re-emerge, it just might take some time and trials to reach.

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