A recent email from Ivan Throne got me thinking about how men must balance our personalities in order to be a complete man. If you are not signed up for Ivan’s email newsletters, you’re missing out, but I digress.
If memory serves, he was speaking about his training in Ninjutsu and how his instructor was teaching him about keeping one foot in the light and the other in the dark.
But what does this mean?
How does this apply to our everyday lives?I want to make a clear distinction that this isn’t the same as the yin-yang principle I’ve touched on in the past where men need a small bit of feminine energy and women need a small bit of masculine energy in order to be a complete person.
Rather, this is about being able to straddle the line between our “good” and “bad” selves without being wholly consumed by either. It is often difficult to recognize such a fine line and even harder to walk it, but it is possible. It’s a battle of Id and Ego; your baser feelings versus your higher ideals.
So why don’t we walk on one side all the time?
Allow me to offer an example. What would happen to a man who gave himself wholly to the darker aspects of his personality? He’d wind up living a hedonistic life, would often find himself in trouble with the law, and would likely die at a young age, unfulfilled of any lofty goals.
What about the inverse? I’m sure you can paint a similar picture on the opposite side of this spectrum.
So where’s the universal balance? Simply put, there isn’t one. Every man must find the balance within themselves and learn to apply it.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
It is about learning to take action when it is necessary. The dark side might tell you to punch a man in the mouth, but it must be in harmony with your light side. Is the man just shooting his mouth off at the bar or is he pulling a gun on your family?
A man should strive to choose peace whenever possible, but must also be ready and willing to wage war if necessary. If a man is bathed in his own light and cannot even access his darker side, is he noble? Can you be called a virtuous man if you lack even the ability to do harm?
I argue no. You must know both sides of yourself intimately and understand the necessity for both.