by Gary 'Z' McGee
Artwork by David Seidman
"Wholeness is not achieved
by cutting off a
portion of one's being,
integration of the contraries."
Balance - we all seek it. We all understand that achieving balance
is healthy. But the majority of us do not understand why it is
Lost in that "why," we tend to lose the underlying essence.
We fall out of step with
the way reality works. We inadvertently repress the darkness and
desperately cling to the light. Interdependence becomes lost to
Artwork by Zdzislaw Beksinski
The answer to that "why" (why is balance healthy) is hidden within
in Mother Nature's
"language older than words".
In fact, it is dictated
Between life and entropy
there is survival. Those seeking to survive in the healthiest way
possible are those attempting to achieve this balance.
Integration of the contraries is no easy task. But it is vital if we
seek to become the healthiest possible version of ourselves.
Here are seven signs that
you may have achieved balance between darkness and light…
1.) You playfully don and discard your "masks"
emptiness is possible,
nothing would be
You realize that the Self is masks all the way down perceiving
delusions all the way up. You have a deep understanding of how, as
Scott Adam's said,
"the human mind is a
delusion generator, not a window to truth."
As such, you have decided
to have a playful nonchalance toward donning and discarding your
Realizing that we are all
merely butt-ends of a terribly funny cosmic joke, you have a deep
sense of humor when it comes to embracing and questioning your many
The key is playful and flexible skepticism in the face of
overly-serious and rigid dogmatism.
By integrating your many
masks (light and dark, tame and wild, finite and infinite) and
embracing the fact that we are all delusional and merely clinging to
whatever particular delusion gets us through the day, you bring
balance to your self-development and compassion and open-mindedness
toward the development of others.
2.) You have
reconciled your demons
to creatively live
devoured by it.
We will decide
our own destiny.
Let us choose
You realize that we all have
a dark side.
We all have a Shadow. We
all have inner demons that we ignore at our own great peril.
You understand that if you dissociate with or repress your shadow,
then you will lack the wholeness it will take to be healthy,
courageous, and self-overcoming. Therefore, you own the shadow. You
incorporate the shadow with the whole so that you may become more
Making the darkness conscious is an art-form. It's a precarious
endeavor, a delicate and dangerous undertaking. But you realize that
no other practice is more vital to human flourishing. No other task
is as critical for achieving balance.
As Jung famously said,
"One does not become
enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the
3.) You have
discovered a balance between grandiosity and humility
serpent that stings us
means to hurt us
and rejoice as it does so.
animal can imagine the pain of others.
But to imagine
the joy of others
and to rejoice
is the highest
of the highest
You realize that we all have at least a low-grade grandiosity that,
by nature, alters our perception of reality and makes it difficult
to have an accurate assessment of our abilities, which causes us to
overestimate our skills and underestimate the obstacles we face.
You understand that the problem isn't the grandiose energy. The problem is what we do
with that energy.
Problems arise when our self-assessment is out of
step with reality and universal laws. The secret ingredient is
Ambition is natural...
It's okay that we all want to feel important
and that we have the urge to be better. But when we focus that
energy into impractical delusions, or we use it to falsely inflate
ourselves, we prevent ourselves from truly improving.
Because we are lacking humility and beginning with the assumption
that we are already large and great and worthy of attention and
But when we channel our grandiose energy into a project, into
achieving a goal, or into solving complex problems, we invert our
Our grandiosity becomes grounded...
The energy impels us to hone our skills and improve upon our method.
We are in dialogue with reality rather than out of step with it.
Which teaches us deep humility...
The balance between grandiosity and humility sets us on a path
toward self-improvement rather than tripping over our
4.) You honor
Artwork by Zdzislaw Beksinski
most beautiful in virile men
what is most
beautiful in feminine women
If you are a woman, you are deeply in touch with your inner
If you are a man, you are deeply in touch with
your inner feminine (anima).
You realize that by integrating your anima/animus, you become more
interdependent and less codependent.
You become more holistic, more
in tune with universal forces. You are less likely to get stuck in
culturally prescribed gender roles or outdated sexist thinking.
A man honoring his anima and a woman honoring her animus is truly a
force to be reckoned with - what Nietzsche referred to as the
For they are that much closer to achieving cosmic heroism.
practice emotional alchemy
stimulus and response
there is a space.
In that space is
to choose our response.
In our response
our growth and our freedom."
You are determined to alchemize your emotions so that you may
actualize healthy action.
You understand that emotional alchemy denotes a psychological
transformation. When we are courageous despite fear, for example, we
are practicing emotional alchemy. It's about being proactively
engaged in a healthier way while still honoring our core emotional
Imagine a firefighter standing outside of a burning building with a
baby on the top floor. He would be a fool not to fear the inferno.
For fear is a natural response to a deadly situation.
But, if he doesn't act courageously despite the feeling of fear, the
baby dies. So, he must first feel the fear and then act with
courage, in order to do the right thing and save the baby.
You understand that this can be applied to almost any emotionally
Feel fear, act
Feel road rage,
act with humor.
Feel grief, act
Feel grandiosity, act with practical grandiosity.
Feel envy, act
act with compersion.
act with confidence.
vengefulness, act with forgiveness.
Action is the thing.
Awareness is the thing. Balancing your emotional state with healthy
action is the thing.
Confidence and practice
will eventually lead to providence and brilliance.
6.) You have
learned to transform setbacks (wounds) into steppingstones (wisdom)
than things are terrible."
You look at each of your failures like hard-earned rungs on the
precarious ladder of life.
Separately, these rungs
are just rigid failures collecting dust in the attic of your
suffering, but if you put them together you form a ladder that you
can climb up into something magical and meaningful.
You are determined to make the obstacle the path.
Thus, you practice
transforming failure into fearlessness, demons into diamonds, wounds
into wisdom. You view mistakes as steppingstones, pivot points, and
serendipitous improvisation rather than as setbacks or hang-ups.
You realize that transforming wounds into wisdom is an act of love
toward the darkest part of yourself.
This act of love,
It is then and there where you learn one of the most powerful
secrets in the universe:
the shadow can be
your worst enemy or your greatest ally.
7.) You have
come to terms with both your wormlike and godlike nature
of the animal
You understand that the human condition is fundamentally fallible,
imperfect, delusional, hypocritical and prone to be mistaken.
Therefore, you are
circumspect about keeping your godhood in check by your wormhood and
your wormhood in check by your godhood.
Torn between shadow and light, fear and love, finitude and infinity,
you proactively redefine the concept of God, realizing that any
human concept of God will always be inaccurate.
Thus, you are vigilant
about providing a sacred space for the continual rebirth of God.
Likewise, you provide a sacred space for your own self-overcoming.
Your wormlike nature teaches your godlike nature humility.
godlike nature teaches your wormlike nature higher consciousness.
The balance between the two creates providence.
Both teach you the interdependent mastery of humility and humor. You
are both humbled and empowered by your feeling of
The "secret elixir" can then be flexibly excavated, and brought
forth to 'the tribe,' despite the absurd experience of being a
creature torn between spirit and flesh, mortality and eternity,
tragedy and comedy, darkness and light.