I wrote recently about the need for contrast in our work, how that which we wish to share will always be seen most clearly against its opposite. In fact, a neuroscientist was attending a writing workshop of mine recently and pointed out that human beings seem to require contrast to make any sense out of the world. It’s always nice to be backed up by science. Yet I have come to understand that the thing I seek most, which assumes many names but is actually always love, has no opposite. Fear would seem to be love’s opposite, but imagine love like the sun. All around the sun is the empty blackness of space, which we shall call fear. All that emptiness is equally not the sun, whether a mere inch of it, or 10,000 miles of it. Meanwhile, the light of the sun can either be observed or not observed, obscured or received.
It may seem like semantics, but to say love has an opposite is to believe that opposite is as real as love. Truth has no opposite. The only opposite of truth is illusion, which is all that fear has ever been. We stand in the present moment, safe and bright, while the empty space of the past and the future appeals to our imagination. We fill that emptiness with stories of our wretchedness or loss or doom, and then call that fear real and declare that it dwells beside us.
Which is why stories are so often about our hero’s shift in perception. Nothing really changes but his view of the world he inhabits. I have heard well-meaning people say how they would like to change the world. I appreciate that such activists are seeking to bring justice where there is injustice, kindness where there is cruelty, hope where there is hopelessness. Yet all those changes we would march for arrive the instant we cease to believe in the world we have imagined, and see the world in which we actually live.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.