Tension and Release

Yin and yang, design flare and focus, musical dissonance and resolution. Many forms express the process of tension and release because it’s so fundamental to the human experience.

We can easily get stuck in our heads, caught up in over-analyzing and striving to understand. Often, we want to act really effectively for the sake of something we care deeply about.

This is tension. It’s the forgotten lyrics that keeps the first part we remember looping endlessly in our head. It’s the anxiety over appearance and the first impressions we are constantly making.

Tension is useful because we are driven to release it. We look up the lyrics, pop the zit, straighten the tie, say the right thing. Things feel a bit more calm, de-pressurized and de-escalated from life-threatening to “OK for now.”

Tension can also be damaging. Stretching too far too fast—whether it’s a hamstring or rubber band or personal goal—is going to lead to some bad places and ugly outcomes.

How can we induce just the right amount of tension in our lives, hobbies, relationships? How can we find appropriate release so that we can better face the next tension? How can we give ourselves permission to go along with this flow? What indicates personally to us that we are fully, optimally immersed?

People sometimes claim change is the only constant—the water in our fishtank. This is not just a fun reflection, but also a profound statement about how we might plan to live out our days. Take care, as with religion, for they may be right.


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