The hauntingly beautiful Joni Mitchell classic, “Both Sides Now”, is one of my all time favourite songs. I think the song resonates with me (and countless others) because it speaks poignantly of the erosion of innocence. That inevitable rite of passage awaiting every young adult – when childlike excitement and wonderment experiences its first bitter taste of disappointment. When romantic idealism is confronted with restraining reality. When, as grown-ups, we tend to place our adolescent dreams and fantasies on the back-burner while we enter society and the workforce; pay the bills and pursue ‘safer’ choices and more ‘realistic’ goals. There’s a coerced change of outlook. A shifting down of expectations.
And then there’s love. And loss. Those profound events in our lives: the relationships, marriages, births, deaths. When you experience heartbreak for the first time, you feel like you’ll never heal over. Anyone who’s ever lived, loved and lost would know what I’m talking about.
This is the human condition. Full of contrasts, complexities and contradictions. The highs and lows. The good, the bad. The light and dark – and the incalculable shades of grey in between.
A recent visitor to this blog took exception to a statement I made in a previous article, where I referred to the world as a “sometimes cruel” place.
“…It’s not a cruel world – it’s a beautiful world with cruel people inhabiting it”, she wrote.
I fully understand and respect her point of view (although I couldn’t help but notice that her comment omitted the very deliberately inserted “sometimes” in that sentence).
I think there are many people who would share her sentiment.
Of course there’s beauty in the world. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by it all that I feel like my heart is going to explode from pure unadulterated joy and gratitude!
And as for the ugliness, why bring it up?
Because it’s there. And it’s hurting people, particularly young people who are arguably the most vulnerable.
One of the aims of this blog, particularly with the “Dear Young Person” series of articles, is to empower young people by raising awareness and encouraging a healthy questioning – and closer examination – of themselves and the world they live in.
And I don’t believe I or any of us can achieve that by ignoring the very obvious elephant in the room.
We have very serious problems and issues to address. Everyday I witness how we are failing a lot of young people – and it shows in their disillusionment, dysfunctional behaviour and mistrust of the world – a personal observation that inspired the “Frankly My Dear” article.
It’s not my intention to offend anyone or open up a debate about whether or not we live in a cruel world. This is a matter of personal viewpoint, ideology and interpretation.
But I won’t be suppressing any opinions here. Certainly not my own.
Everyone has the right to their own unique outlook of the world, but we’re polarized when given the choice between viewing the glass as being half full or half empty.
Optimism or pessimism.
Hope or despair.
Idealism or cynicism.
With respect, I look at life from both sides now…