Thursday, August 23, 2007


The picture to the left is the Chinese symbol for "crisis". It is comprised of two other symbols - danger + opportunity. This is especially poignant to me as I have taken several big risks in the past few years, and often found myself in a state of crisis - a point where I felt like I was doing something dangerous that could be harmful to me, though on the upside offered great opportunities. I got burned here and there, though I think all of the risk was absolutely worth it. And I never stopped believing that I could get through whatever was thrown at me. I knew I was lucky to have this abundance of chances at accomplishment.
I wonder if we can come through crisis by focusing on the opportunity piece rather than the danger. Or is the recognition and respect for the danger crucial to success?
I did a bit of research on these symbols. According to a know-it-all sinologist, these symbols actually do not mean "danger" and "opportunity". I wish I could tell you what they do mean. He was so long-winded, and a bit cynical in my opinion, that I couldn't stand reading his web post. If you're interested to know the exact meaning, here is the URL: I still think the consideration of crisis as danger and opportunity is worthwhile, even if the wisdom of the Far East did not intend it.
We tend to think of crisis as something we must stop, put an end to, squash. It is the battle of our lives to mitigate a crisis of any kind. So what about a crisis of faith? I don't mean religious faith, rather faith in ourselves, in our actions, in the goodness of others. What happens when we falter? Do we shrink away from the danger and seek a safer path, even if it is not the path we want? Or do we look at the crisis as an opportunity to flex our muscles, to ask more of ourselves, to reach up a little higher than we really believe we can?
I am also interested in the interchange between how our past experience and current attitude shapes the way we look at a new situation, and then how every situation shapes our experience and attitude going forward. Do we influence the way a situation resolves itself, or does that situation influence us? Is it really all a matter of what we believe to be true. If I want a positive resolution, is it possible that my own will and hard work are enough to make it so?
I had dinner with my wonderful friend, Ian, last night and I was telling him about my fear of karma running out. He adamantly said to me, "Do not say that! If you say it, it happens. And if you believe your good karma will continue, then it will. There is no such thing as luck." I am naturally a self-deprecating person, and Ian was going to let me get away with that. As he saw it, I was on a role of good fortune, so why not focus on that and keep it going.
I feel sorry for the cynical sinologist. My guess is that a focus on opportunity is not his forte. I considered writing to him and explaining that even if those aren't the precise symbols for danger + opportunity, that sentiment has gone a long way toward effecting how I see crisis and my ability to handle crisis in my life. It's changed the way I look at and react to challenges. And isn't that really the important thing? In this case, imagination really is more important than information.

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