on complements

I’m a firm believer in complements – things coupled together, whether the relationship is apparent or not. This may not be a universal attribute, and I’m not stating it is. It’s also not limited to pairs, as complements are not two-dimensional. However, it’s a positive philosophical exercise to try and find symmetry where it may not exist so clearly, and it can certainly open up the mind beyond everyday theoretical boundaries. (1)

When I mean complements, I mean things that go together, complete each other, and make a whole. Some pairs may be opposites, yes, but complements are not two puzzle pieces forming a circle. Think of complements as spherical yins and yangs with a bunch of inner overlap.

So where can I start? How about a list of some pairs…

Characteristics – qualitative & quantitative, forward-thinking & retrospective, introverted & extroverted, hand-on & on-paper, leader & follower
Colors – black & white, light & dark, blue & orange, red & green
Words – stop & go, you & me, here & there, near & far, always & forever, mine & yours
Sounds – wind & calm, scream & whisper, ooh & ahh
Feelings – love & happiness, celebration & mourning, happy & sad, anxious & patient
Food – sweet & sour, harsh & smooth, rosemary & thyme, parmesan & romano, spaghetti & meatballs, peppers & onions, steak & wine
Partners – Jordan & Pippen, May & Walsh, Mario & Luigi, Robinson & Rodman (best NBA Jam duo), Brin & Page, Jerry & George

I believe symmetry and balance in nature is good. Breaking from that balance is also good and it’s usually is a driver of innovation, conversation, and collaboration.
Complementary teamwork is essential to making things work. The recognition of individual contributions to a team allow the spherical shape to form where overlaps provide the fuel to reaching a common end goal.

The same applies to relationships. Not one person can drive a couple to a life of love & happiness. It takes two (baby). That’s what makes couples so fun. People need other people. Not one person is a sphere but he or she needs to find a complement to build that sphere together. Sure the overlaps can create disagreement, but the result should be a more dense and stronger bond.

Well, I know I’m no Poe but I hope there is an adsideological takeaway here. Think about complements. Not everything you see, touch, or hear exists independently. Recognize individual contributions as one piece of a spherical success engine. And find your complement and don’t hesitate to make it permanent. Love & happiness will always follow.

(1) I do think the arguments made against the Qur’an on this topic are a bit absurd and biased. In some distant corner of the web-o-sphere there lies an argument that the Qur’an is wrong in stating everything exists in pairs. Not only do I think this is an invalid point of attack on a religious body, but the approach loses credibility with a lack of objectivity. One main argument is with gravity and that there is no counterpart. Well what a worldly view that is! Despite my love for the depths of physics, it still describes less than 1% of the universe. Pairs don’t equal opposites, and I know that I’ve walked on the ceiling in some of my dreams.

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2 thoughts on “on complements

  1. I love your last line… and I agree with your argument here as I understand it. Collaboration is really key to breakthroughs whether they’re obviously complementary like a hand in a glove or something more volatile like hydrogen peroxide on an organic stain or Easter egg dye dropped in a cup of vinegar–when they sizzle, you know something’s happening.Sorry for those lame analogies but I’m only on my first cup of coffee and chemistry isn’t my strong suit. I was trying to think of something dynamic in a “catalyst” sort of way.I dreamed about sad dogs last night.

  2. Amy, love your analogies and you are exactly right. How is it that you can explain my point perfectly with about 5% of the words I need to use? ;)In such a dynamic and fast-paced world, the more volatile complements are certainly drivers of disruptive technologies, new relationships, and an invigorated environment around us. With your peroxide and egg dye analogies, here are a few more chem ones I can think of…Spark, fuel, & oxygen = fireBaking soda & vinegar = volcanoSalt on a wound

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