Life's Yin and Yang 人生的阴和阳

lotus flowers in Prince Gong Palace Beijing Aug 2008.jpg

I was thinking about this topic for a while. When I meant Yin and Yang, I wasn’t talking about female and male, or heaven and hell. It was a philosophic term widely used in Chinese to describe the two opposite aspects of literally anything in this universe.

A couple of years ago, I developed an interest in this Chinese life science, which helped me to gain insight into people’s life, from their grandparents, parents, to siblings and kids, from relationship, marriage to wealth, health, fame and career... I thought it was a brilliant tool to help me understand my past, present and future...

In order to validate its accuracy, I have applied the learning to analyze people’s past before predicting their future. The conclusion was quite different from what I imagined. Basically, a good life is not really as good, or a bad life is not really as bad either. It depends on our definition of the good and the bad, the namely Yin and Yang.

I came out of a London Business School alumni event tonight at the Elephant & Castle pub, right across Park Hyatt. It was close to 9pm. Nice weather, easy traffic. I thought I would get a cab within seconds. But 15 minutes later, I was still standing there. Did I just have bad taxi luck? I was a little puzzled when the gatekeeper of Park Hyatt stepped out to the street. I explained the situation and asked for help. He promised this was the easiest corner to get the cab. Another 5 minutes later, he confirmed this was really - “bad”. Somehow, in the middle of nowhere, he whistled a Lincoln limo for me. So, my “bad” long cab wait turned into a “good” enjoyable ride home, at the same cost of a cab.

Similarly, everything in our life has its Yin and Yang. It might be mission impossible to describe one’s life simply as “good” or “bad”. Someone with significant wealth but unfulfilled relationship, someone with remarkable talent and spirit but poor health or material gains... Sometimes, we tend to overlook our own wealth - good health, loving family, long lasting friendship, etc. and over exaggerate our pain. Or over exaggerate the wealth of other people, eg. celebrities, of whom we do not really know other than their reputation, social status and luxurious lifestyle, and overlook their pain.

When I visited the chambers of the French kings in Loire Valley this summer, painfully imagining how much freedom a king enjoyed under the 24 hour surveillance, I seriously questioned how a king’s life was different from a prisoner’s. I guess most of us would rather prefer a simple life of our own instead of a king’s despite all the gold and power...

Alas, whoever created this universe has been pretty fair to everyone - you have something more here and something less there. It’s a balanced game. I wonder whether it’s still meaningful to continue my little fortune telling study. It does not matter someone knows his/her tomorrow or not, one thing is for sure - one could choose to believe in a good life and feel happy as long as he/she wants to.