Finding Gold in the Cracks (as published in the HeartBalm Healing Podcast at https://heartbalm.substack.com)

Living in the contrast of life can feel daunting, overwhelming, and uncomfortable yet everything in this life is about contrast. Slowing down the images and reels of what is coming into our awareness, taking permission back from the mind’s voracious appetite to absorb, to not miss out, to take in everything and instead hand it back to our awareness. This is step one in falling in love with what’s here – to what’s happening now, in this moment – to see the disparity at play, the tug of war between mind and consciousness, and recognizing the simple wisdom and beauty of just that.

I don’t know how I would have lived without contrast as I look back. My life seemed filled with doubt and very little certainty or ability to expect or witness good things. Yet, if I look closely, I can see the tiny bits of contrast where nature was my refuge, my escape from abuse, pain, and neglect. I can see the calm beauty of the trees, grasses, and soft places to rest but also the shadowed reason why I was hiding, and the fear and isolation I felt. Going to school and seeing my friends was how I learned what true, unconditional love was. My friends taught me about comradery, companionship, loyalty, acceptance, freedom, laughter, and play set against my imprisoned home life of hardships, oppression, and transactional love and living. It was like I was gifted tiny stars along my path to light the way through my dark world, and as a friend once suggested that these little lights are now the billions of stars in the night sky. I’m sure all of us could remember the scary, uncomfortable, or uncertain moments of our lives and the people, places, or spaces we found that offered us balm, beauty, or safety as the contrasting thread that illuminated hard times and offered us softness and grace.

God, how I ricochet between certainties and doubts.

_Sylvia Plath, “Letters of Sylvia Plath”

As I began to quiet the voices within and without – moving into spaces of calm, quiet, and self-care I began to find more and more that there was safety in my world. I could see the deep hues of elegant wisdom and grace running through the darker waves of uncertainty and doubt. In a very simple way, I could see it in the view of the distant mountains through my living room window – cut short by the houses on either side, the cement road between, the mass of stoic mailboxes, and the ugly, rusty, black truck that sat in front of a neighboring house and rarely moved. Yet the blue sky above the houses, the voluminous clouds slowly bounding across the endless sea of sky was magical to me. Would I have noticed the precious mountain view if it were not squeezed in between the houses, or the endless blue sky and the soft, floating clouds had I not had to look up to avoid the gray mailboxes and rusty black truck? The exotic contrast between beautiful and ugly contradicts the other. Had this view been without contrast, without disruption, ugliness, or obstacles to my view would I have been able to acknowledge, and appreciate it with as much wonder and gratitude as I chose to see it? It was my mountain view after all – mine to absorb, to have for as long as I could keep my eyes open and appreciate the magnificent snippet. The blue skies offer a background to the slow-moving, bulbous clouds, the quaking leaves of the young, tiny tree dancing outside the same window to the tune of the wind’s song. All of it mine to love or hate, appreciate or judge, demand more from or accept as is, find comfort in or recoil. Maybe you have had experiences where a small area of beauty in the midst of unpleasant circumstances or surrounding objects still opened your eyes, heart, and mind to the awe of contrast in your life. Gather, note, and keep a diary of these wondrous moments – look back now and write down these magical moments in time that gave you pause, and realigned your soul with the universe itself.

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And what do I want? I want to live and feel the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.

_Sylvia Plath, “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath”

I think of children who live with, grow and develop under the hostile and toxic conditions of abusive parents and families and how the certainty of pain, abuse, betrayal, insecurity, manipulation, and lies becomes the norm. This kind of certainty to see the future through the filter of not being able to trust, rely on, and accept or expect good from others is a soul death. Doubting this certainty of future pain when that is how the infant’s mind, body, and being was formed is – to the now grown adult’s mind is akin to death. Yet, for healing to take place one must step into this contrast and accept a new way of being which is a herculean task. This is the space where love and the light of grace can enter when slowed down to the parts and pieces of what is here now – leaving the certainty of a terrifying, painful past and the certainty of a future filled with abuse and betrayals in the hands of doubt. Doubt can make us distrust events and even our worth in healing itself. We have to be willing to give up our certainty of a future that is based on a dead and scary past to allow reality to catch up with us, step into vulnerability, and then take another step into NOW, and find the brilliance and gold waiting for us here and be with the contrast of all of it.

I have no talent for certainty.

_Jane Austen, “Mansfield Park”

We all live with doubt and uncertainty, highlighted by moments of certainty and things that are a given. It seems our life’s mission is to find certainty and remove all doubt or find someone who tells us things with certainty so that we can believe in an orderly, predictable world – to know what is right from wrong and how we fit into the whole so that there are no more questions.

Life seems manageable, livable, and even enjoyable from that perspective yet missing the miraculous point where doubt and uncertainty break through this dream of managed and organized chaos is where the magic happens.

The points of contrast that bring us to awareness, and break us open to what’s real and here NOW are the cracks in our world, in our lives, and in our experience where the light can find us and come in. Whether by your invitation or not – these cracks are your gateway to the miraculous contrast that heralds the grace and divinity of your reason for being. This “shoulder shaking” that wakes you to this NOW moment and what is truly, really at play – that the good, the bad, and the ugly are all part of the whole and there is nothing wrong with any of it unless we choose to believe otherwise.

There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.

_Leonard Cohen, “Stranger Music: Selected Poems & Songs”

When we embrace life as is, the cracks, bumps, and beautiful ugly experiences throughout we can more easily appreciate the exquisite presence and purpose for all of it. We can understand and empathize with others more easily and find the world softening under our gaze and our heart opening to the magnificence of differences, contrast, how the dark must exist to know the light, and the shared stories outlining the reality that everything that occurs is for us, and our evolving nature and continuing transformation.

The Japanese art of Kintsugi (or golden joinery) is the repairing of broken pottery with gold. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. This art form can be compared with the human experience, and is beautifully stated by Christy Bartlett:

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated. The vicissitudes [or variations] of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject.

–Christy Bartlett

Please join me for an accompanying meditation to come back fully to this NOW moment, in the audio version/podcast of this publication at HeartBalm.

As always, thank you for joining me. Go see the gold in everyone and feel adored. I love you.


To read or explore more please reference this publications resource list:

Sylvia Plath, “Letters of Sylvia Plath”

Sylvia Plath, “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath”

Jane Austen, “Mansfield Park”

Leonard Cohen, “Stranger Music: Selected Poems & Songs”

The Japanese art of Kintsugi (or golden joinery)


For parts work, and healing guided meditations please visit the HeartBalm Meditation Toolbox on the home page, and visit the HeartBalm Archives for other helpful articles, tools, and topics. To listen to this podcast please subscribe below or signup at HeartBalm.substack.com.

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