The Yin-Yang of Friendship

I feel sad today, though I shouldn’t. The weather is lovely — cool with wonderfully clear azure skies. I had a delicious lunch with a friend and afterward we sat beneath a tree by the shores of a lake (human-made, but still a lake) and enjoyed a quiet interlude.

If the sadness isn’t a belated response to my four-and-a-half-year anniversary of grief, and if it isn’t simply a general malaise stemming from the change of seasons, then it could be due to an ongoing disagreement I am having with another friend. This other friend periodically accuses me of being contrary or negative when I resist being taken for granted, and I never know how to yinyanghandle the accusations, so I often make the situation worse by trying to explain my position. This time, I’m not explaining, and perhaps that’s what’s making me sad — I value my friends and I don’t like passing up an opportunity to put things right.

Last year, another friend accused me of being negative. (When most people look at me, they don’t see someone negative but a smiling woman who is doing the best she can with what life throws at her.) I told her I was sorry she felt that way, and that’s pretty much how we left it. We reconnected recently, and she apologized for her behavior, saying I wasn’t negative and she had no idea why she accused me of being so.

I don’t know why she said it, either. To be honest, I don’t know why anyone would accuse a person of being negative. I can’t think of a single instance where I accused someone of being negative, perhaps because I don’t put much faith in being positive. I’m one of those people who don’t care whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. I simply drink what’s there and refill the glass if possible, which could be why I have no idea how to deal with the infrequent person who calls me negative.

The truth is, negativity isn’t necessarily negative. Negativity is simply yin to positivity’s yang. Everything is a duality — complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic whole. Light and dark. Male and female. Hot and cold. Fire and water. Good and bad. Positive and negative. In Taoism, there is no real distinction between these forces that we in the west see as opposites. Since negativity is a matter of perception, the problem lies with the person who perceives me in such a light. And so it goes, the yin-yang of friendship.

Now if the friend had accused me of over thinking everything, I’d have to agree with that. If nothing else, this post is an exercise in over thinking. But I had fun writing this bloggerie and now don’t feel quite so sad — I even have a small smile on my face.

I hope you do too.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “The Yin-Yang of Friendship”

  1. Paula Kaye Says:

    I have a smile too…because I am the same way. I over-think everything. I will admit however that I am one of those people who sees the glass half empty. I loved your take on that by saying to “simply drink it and refill if possible.” I love that ….I will use it in the future.

  2. Charlotte M. Liebel Says:

    Well, Pat, ~ I like your thoughtfulness in presenting the case for the negatives, that some people stop me cold with, and support your: “Now if the friend had accused me of over thinking everything…”

    Perhaps it’s the attitude of one friend I have who takes ‘another point of view’ ~ no matter the topic. It’s difficult to smile for all the ‘over thinking.’ On a good day, we are pleasant. At another time, I bid adieu early. Have to say: I’m one of those curiosities that sees the glass half-full most times. ~ Charlotte

  3. mickeyhoffman Says:

    I have to say I’ve been called “negative” many times. This is probably because I am not optimistic by nature and being detail oriented, see flaws where others don’t. It would be a good idea for me to just shut up because no one wants to hear this stuff, even when it is pertinent or even crucial to the success of a project.


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