Yesterday I watched the rocumentary Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind. I was thoroughly blown away by her endless, streaming talent, wisdom and beauty. Here is a woman who followed her Muse, never once selling out, speaking her raw, poetic, unadulterated truth and yet she struggled with depression. She never cared about being famous, she never even felt comfortable or worthy of it. I was struck by one of the things she said, regarding her embracing depression: “If you get rid of the demons, the angels fly away, too.” How eloquently put!
I was just talking with a friend that very day about her working hard to change herself, taking ownership of her “stuff” and ultimately becoming the person she “wants” to be. I added: “the person you ARE.” She hesitated, and sort of frowned with her response: “Wellllll… I’m not so sure, there are still things I’m trying to get rid of.” Hearing this, I reminded her that while it is true that awareness is half the work, acceptance is also key. We can shift, we can change, but there will always be a “shadow” side. Note: this does not mean a “bad” side. But in this humanistic, dualistic world we live in, there is a flip side to everything. Unfortunately, we tend to think we are supposed to be “happy” or “good” or “succeeding” 100% of the time. We can surely aim towards perfection, but with a knowing we will never be perfect. It is within this paradox that we find peace. So when Joni speaks of the demons and the angels, she reminds us that we truly need both aspects, the light AND the dark. We cannot “get rid” of one without getting rid of the other; therefore we cannot “have” one without the other. From Joni’s depression came some of her greatest work. By shining light upon her dark side, she manifested beauty.
By embracing our own “flip” side with compassion and non-judgment, we begin to understand and accept that darkness in others. By shining light into our darkness, the shadows cease to be threatening, without threat; there is no fear – without fear, a world of endless possibilities awaits!