Backyard Philosopher

Clumps of green blades dotted the flowerbed. Some of the leaves obviously belonged to crocus and hyacinths that were soon to blossom. Other clumps belonged to either daffodils or mystery lilies. I wouldn’t know for sure until the daffodils sent up stems and buds.

This flowerbed had looked completely dead when the winter snow melted. Then the first small green shoots pushed their way up through the cold, wet ground. I marveled at this miracle despite having seen it happen each spring of my life. How tenacious the small bulbs were! How badly they wanted to live! How inconceivable it was that they were able to wake up and start growing again after having been frozen solid for months on end!

Flower bulbs were not the only things growing in the yard. Swollen red buds tipped the maple tree branches. Despite a chilly spring, leaves were sure to follow soon. Blades of grass in the lawn were pushing up through last year’s brown thatch. The lawn mowing people were sure to follow soon, too.

I went to sit in a chair on the deck to muse the endlessness of household bills. My daughter Tammie was sitting at the table across from me. She looked up from her phone as I complained, “In the winter I pay for snow to be removed from the driveway and buy fuel for the furnace. In the summer I don’t pay for those things, but then I pay for someone to mow the lawn and have higher electric bills for using the air conditioner.”

Having her own household and bills, Tammie nodded sympathetically as I whined, “The air in the house is too dry in the winter from running the furnace, so I bought a humidifier to stop painful static shocks. Then in the summertime there’s too much humidity in the air causing things to rust in the basement so I bought a dehumidifier!”

Tammie shrugged and said, “That’s just the yin and yang of life.”

Turning to look at her I questioned, “Does everything in this world have an opposite.” I mentally ran down the list; life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell, day and night, love and hate, in and out, up and down, wet and dry.

Yin and yang is a fundamental concept of ancient Chinese philosophy where all things exist as inseparable but contradictory opposites. The myth states that yin and yang were born of chaos when the universe was first formed and are represented by two drops contained within a circle, one drop black and the other white. Each has a drop of its antithesis. Harmony occurs when a correct balance is reached between the yin and yang.

Playing the part of the devil’s advocate, I asked Tammie, “How does rich and poor fit the philosophy? No one ever feels rich. No matter how much money a person has they’ll usually want more. Beautiful and Ugly? Some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever meet feel ugly. Too wet and too dry? That depends on what crop you’re growing; rice and cranberries need paddy fields while okra and sweet potatoes need dry soil.”

“Now you are just being silly.” My daughter admonished.

Nodding, I pointed out, “Think about the sad state of our world. We have wars, pandemics, famines, climate change, race, gender and hatred. If yin and yang were born of the chaos of the newly formed universe, what’s going to be born of the current chaos?”

Leaning back in my chair, I listened to a robin sing. From my neighbor’s yard I heard the liquid trill of a red winged black bird. A busy breeze rustled the top boughs of the pine trees behind my house.

Taking a picture of the daffodil in a vase on the table, Tammie suggested, “Maybe all that’s wrong with the world is that the balance between love and hate is out of whack. Chaos is a symptom of imbalance.”

Enjoying the peaceful moment, I closed my eyes, felt the joy of the warm sun, my daughter’s company, and love for this old, dinged up world. I responded, “So many problems would be solved if everyone treated those around them the way they themselves want to be treated. God have mercy on us. May He bless the peacemakers.”

One thought on “Backyard Philosopher

  1. No doubt we are in chaos in the whole world. Would be nice if we could have some peace. Thanks for the nice, currently important essay.

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