Today I’ve been reflecting on the seemingly capricious nature of life.
On Friday Chris, my business partner, and I were jubilant about the fact we’d been engaged that morning for an exciting new project, which we know will be both challenging and fun to complete.
Then that afternoon an impending cold worsened, and I spent the weekend mostly in bed feeling like death warmed up – aching, snuffling fit to burst, coughing and losing my voice. So Friday’s jubilation went the way of all flesh – replaced by a dose of bodily misery.
Much better today, with that dreadful lurgy receding into the past in its turn, I’m smiling to myself at the way the Universe keeps reminding us life is a ever a journey of hills and valleys, highs and lows.
Ok, so neither the high nor the low I experienced in the last few days could in any way be described as an extreme example of its kind. But the rapid shift from one to the other and back again has definitely revealed the Cosmic Trickster at work once more.
This is an archetypal figure that has many names and guises across different cultures and mythologies.
For example there’s the Norse god, Loki – shape shifter and trickster extraordinaire. Or Prometheus, who tricked Zeus and the other gods into allowing humans the best part of animals killed for sacrifice and stole fire from the gods on Olympus for people to use. There’s Maui from Polynesia who also stole fire from the gods to give to humans.
Then there’s Bamapana, a god of the Yolngu indigenous people from Arnhem Land in Australia, who delighted in causing disruption and discord. Or Eshu, god of chaos and trickery from Yoruba mythology in West Africa. And maybe The Joker in the Batman story can also be seen as another, more modern equivalent.
When we mere mortals are sitting comfortably atop one of life’s highs, the Cosmic Joker laughs at our complacency. “So you think you’ve got your stuff together, do you? You think you’ve got life sorted? Well try this one out for size!”
Then, when we’re struggling in one of life’s lows, he usually laughs again at our discomfiture before throwing another upward loop our way.
So how do we best cope with his quirkiness, his cruelty and his beneficence? Let go. Allow ourselves simply to ride life’s journey without clinging too desperately to the good times or fighting too hard against the bad.
Either way, whatever we try, there’s likely to be another shift just around the corner that will try to pitch us off balance again. Whether it’s for good or bad, up hill or down dale, ‘this too will pass’.
It’s all part of that disastrous, delightful, damnable and delicious paradox we call life.