Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated

I've been thinking a lot about yin.

More specifically, yin and yang, balance and seasons and whatnot. My old friend SMac (yes, Sarah, that is your new nickname as of this morning) reminded me of this a week or so ago when I was whining about how all I wanted to do was hibernate, draw in, be quiet, be still. And her reminder reawakened me to the ebb and flow of the seasons, the balance of winter's dark quietude with summer's vibrantly sunlit days.

Americans in particular so want to deny these natural rhythms, I think. Most of the world religions embrace some sense of this balance: Taoism's complementary notions of yin and yang especially come to mind, yin being the darker element - "passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponding to the night," and yang being the opposing brighter element, "active, light, masculine, upward-seeking, and corresponding to the day" (thanks, Wikipedia). In the same way, hatha yoga is all about the union of two elements: "ha" and "tha" being the coming-together of "sun" and "moon," the creation of balance in the body. Both rest on the assumption of a natural state of harmony, balance, in the lights and the darks of our days.

Anyway, point of all this is, where the hell is the balance in an American culture that is (ostensibly) all about bright and cheery and loud and progress-orientation and optimism? Can we get a little yin in here, please?!? Especially in this time of year, when the earth itself lies dormant and resting, and the animals (in what little wild terrain still lingers) doze silently in their oblivious hibernation, and the sun goes down early for the long evenings to come, why don't we honor that yin a little more and take pleasure in the quiet and the dark and the drawing-in?

I remember so clearly a conversation I had about this once with a man I was seeing - a Brit his whole life - while living in the UK. One of the first pleasant surprises I had on moving there was the lack of fake cheer, the utter absence of that manufactured grocery-clerk joy or gas-station clerk "HI, have a GREAT DAY!" accompanied by the wide fake smile that we expect from customer service workers in the States. I remarked on how refreshing I found the grumbling melancholy Brits, and he replied: "What, so you like us because we're all just a bunch of sad bastards?" And of course that wasn't the case, entirely, but I think something about the perpetual cold and dark and pissing-down rain in Britain accustoms its people to the yin elements of existence in a way that is simply unavoidable. And we could do ourselves a favor to take something from that.

So draw in and enjoy the dark of this next six weeks before spring hits. And on a closing note: how about that Newsom affair?!? No one's talking about anything else right now. Looks like a little yin time might be in order for our gelled friend Gavin. Sorry, buddy - sucks to be you right now.


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