Bookmark and Share

What is your counterpart — Or do you even care?

When I asked Al what his counterpart was, he thought a moment and said, “I don’t know, I don’t care and what does it matter? You’re going to lose your readers on this one.”

Even with Al’s standoffish approach I proceeded with my reasoning, which came from a quote by Camille Pissarro , a French impressionist painter born in 1830. “When you do a thing with your whole soul and everything that is noble within you, you always find your counterpart.”

Up until then I didn’t know I had a counterpart and I didn’t know to look for one. Now I am curious to know.

So what in the world is Pissarro saying about his counterpart? He was a higher thinker and I couldn’t possibly get into his psyche, and maybe it’s so profound that it’s simple.

I attacked the subject with gusto knowing there was a deeper meaning and I was going to find the answer. Because I didn’t know what I was writing about I spent several days writing and re-writing until I had sucked the life right out of the idea down to dry bones and possibly into the bone yard.

So I e-mailed the quote to some of the readers and asked what counterpart meant to them. After receiving their responses, I realized that their counterpart is as unique and special as they are and their relationship with God.

The answer lies within us. We take different roads, and go through different circumstances and life lessons before we come to the answer. It comes by the way of our own nature this is being who we are and how we are made.

It could mean at the end of noise there is silence and there we find our counterpart. An early morning last week I was on my way to a writer’s critique group. As I drove towards Pagosa on U.S. 84 the sun lit up Pagosa Peak like a Christmas tree. I turned off Kenny G’s tape. I needed complete silence to wrap myself around the moment. I drove in awe thinking of the magnificence that I was seeing. The only noise was a repeated phrase playing in my mind, “Before the mountains were, I AM.” The moment was so big that I couldn’t describe it. It was a blinding moment of realization of how small I am in comparison to the greater I AM. Is God my counterpart? After all I am made in His image.

As I continued to drive, I began to sort out what just happened. I laughed at myself. This is a first for me. I didn’t need to paint it, photograph it or write about it. I didn’t have to do anything. It was a moment of shear enjoyment. I quietly observed it without any participation. Wow! I have never experienced this before. So this is how it feels just being an observer.

The moment only lasted long enough for me to arrive at the writer’s group and I immediately became the participator again. It was the first time I had attended this group of members who knew each other very well. They were all very skilled writers. They quietly communicated their thoughts, and I excitedly jumped in with my comments. I quickly observed I was out of sync with the group and I better tone it down a bit. I was becoming noisy even to myself again.

I am a participator by nature. I enter into the moment and something stirs in me to participate. Al is an observer. In groups he doesn’t say a word and I am always thinking to myself, “Al, get with the program, participate!”

He tells me, “You can learn a lot more by being quiet.”

So Al learns by observing, I learn by actively pursuing the moment. We each process life differently and this subject was no exception. Al waits for it to come to him and I run after it until I get it. As I pursued the subject of my counterpart, re-writing it many times, I continued to get closer to the truth of Pissarro ’s statement.

I finished the article and read it to Al. His comment was, “This is a bunch of hogwash. It doesn’t make sense, you’ve written some good stuff before, and this is not one of them!”

With that comment I thought, I am beginning to see my next life lesson, he is sitting right in front of me — his name is Al Slade. Here we go again another learning experience and hopefully one step closer to my counterpart.

The final brushstroke: When we do a thing with our whole soul and everything that is noble within us, we will always find our counterpart. The Great I AM comes in that humble moment when we come to the end of ourselves and quietly observe.

Reader’s comments

I know you will enjoy the responses from the other readers on counterpart. As you see by their diverse way of thinking, each person experiences life in their own very personal way.

Hi Betty:

Well, I wonder what he was referring to (or in what context) when he said, “when you do a thing” (what is the thing?) — my first thought is that you find a person, a mate, a best girlfriend or just a kindred spirit when you do something you are passionate about. Then there is the yen yang theory to consider.

 Lastly, I think with art, when you do something with your whole soul the product is the expression of that beauty you have within and sometimes that is a counterpart or a better part. Not sure this is very deep thinking here. My guess is that you already are on the right track with your thoughts!




Sounds to me that you find your counterpart when you do not go around being a copy cat. These guys broke away from what others said was the way to do it.


New Mexico


Phil 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things — Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”




Phil 4:8-9: “The one who does things nobly is reaching to find God and the counterpart would be God within you.”

B. Holder

Green Valley, Ariz.


It’s a duplicate or complement.  In art maybe it means it will come back to you in one way or another?

Sharri Lou,



Well, Betty, I have thought and thought and thought on this, and to tell you the truth I have no idea what my counterpart is. I think of the word alter-ego, but what do I know? So go for it. Enlighten me.


Bayfield, Colo.


I think “meeting ones counterpart” could mean standing tall and being the angel one is meant to be, regardless of a lack of support or similar interest among the dim-spirited common crowd. That is, not slouching. A slouch seems easier, but it really wastes ones vital energy, and prevents noble accomplishment. When one abandons the slouch and stands tall, quite apart from blending with the dim-spirited commoners, one will soon find others who are more nobly inspired, and become part of the same newly found noble world which such high should inhabit. Such other souls would be the counterpart of which Pissaro speaks. The art that such souls produce will help that noble world to prevail everywhere, and the dim commoners will also be impressed, and though they may not be fully aware of the difference, they will be subject to the higher world of these noble friends, rather than the “ordinary” world they would have taken for granted. (One might even meet “real” angels too.)

It’s like Beethoven saying “We musicians are emperors in another realm,” or something to that effect, compared to the high political authorities of the day, and such like. Friedrich Schiller, who wrote the “Ode To Joy,” which inspired him so much that he enshrined it in his Ninth Symphony, might be one  “counterpart” with whom Beethoven, through his artistic daring, was able to join forces.


Pagosa Springs

Artist’s quote

“As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I — something that is my life — the power to create.” Vincent Van Gogh.