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The thought of the day is "CONTRAST," which is the state of being strikingly different from something else.

We exist in a world of contrasting elements. Few things exist outside of the context of their surroundings, and the context often defines these things. Consider the sharp distinction between the black and white stripes of the Zebra, vs the the similar greens in the picture below it. If the word "CONTRAST" was a little less yellow, it would entirely disappear into the background. If the Zebra was standing still in front of a background of similar black and white strips, it might vanish as well.

So it is with life. We live in the midst of contrast. For instance, work has much more value than to simply provide money. It provides meaning to the rest of our lives. The person who has nothing but free time is unlikely to appreciate the value of those passing moments, whereas the person who works long hard hours will likely find great pleasure in the simple enjoyment of not being at work.

I find it amusing when someone claims to never compare themselves to other people. It sounds great. It actually sounds healthy. On the other hand, it probably isn't really possible. The first thing we do when we get test results in school is to find out how everyone else did. Your score only matters in relationship to everyone else. Maybe you only answered 50% of the questions correctly, but everyone else scored less than 25%. Congratulations! You are the winner in spite of your poor test results. For you to be truly great requires a background of some kind.

Several months ago I had a particularly bad day at work, having to deal with conflict that was fairly unpleasant. Two weeks later, when similar conflict occurred again, I found myself wishing that life was less complicated. When I thought back over the previous weeks, I realized that I could hardly remember anything about most of the previous month with the exception of the day in which the previous conflict had occurred. The details of that day were vividly etched in my mind. Everything else had passed by in an easy vanilla flow that was never to be remembered. On reflection, I decided that the difficult days made the other days enjoyable by contrast. This doesn't make me want to go looking for difficulties, but perhaps they serve a greater purpose than we realize.

One of my best friends is a very smart fellow who works as a health care provider. On top of being well above average in intelligence, he is also enjoys an usual variety of talents. Although he isn't arrogant, he does enjoy the fact that he is well above average in so many ways. He is often frustrated with the people he deals with on a daily basis because of their lack of intelligence and talent. It occurred to me recently that without his background of frustratingly average people, the very things he likes about himself would have no meaning. Perhaps we should all be celebrating many of the people who frustrate us as they provide a background that we desperately need to feel good about ourselves.

The ultimate contrast is between death and life. We live this strange human existence, marching unstoppably from birth to death. The end seems like such a waste, but perhaps it provides the contrast necessary to make life meaningful. Perhaps the only true waste, is to live a life that isn't worth living. Because our moments are limited, each one should be cherished, held onto and lived in full. Allowing these moments to erode meaninglessly may be worse than death itself.

So...enjoy the different types of work you do. Work makes your free time meaningful. Enjoy those who are less than you and never look down on them. They provide you with self esteem that you might not have otherwise. Finally, seize the moments of your life, and never waste them. Live them fully and well. They don't go on forever.

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