These 14 mesmerizing photos show Earth's many forces juxtaposed against each other.

We all contain contradictions. It's part of what makes us human.

Walt Whitman wrote, in "Song of Myself":

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"


And it's true. You can be conservative but want to stop climate change. You can be liberal but support rights for gun owners. And though at first glance this juxtaposition, these side-by-side comparisons, might seem fraught, these combinations can also be beautiful.

In fact, the entirety of planet Earth has always been made up of a harmony of forces: fire and ice, wind and water.

These 14 images show that these contradictions and juxtapositions aren't just OK — they're a natural part of the world we live in.

1. Check out the soothing balance between lights deep in Antarctica. One above. One below. Both beautiful.

Image from NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

2. Meanwhile, in Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, fire and ice – ancient mythical enemies – create an amazing vista together.

Image from iStock.

3. And yeah, lava can be destructive, like this fiery eruption winding its way through a vibrantly green forest.

Lava from the 2007 eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on the island of Réunion. Image from Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images.

4. But though fire is powerful, forests are nothing if not resilient. Like this new tree growing after a fire wiped out a forest in Australia.

Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images.

5. In fact, fires open up the forest canopy, giving many plants a chance to grow, like these beautiful wildflowers. Some plants, like lodgepole pines, actually require fires to spread their seeds.

Image from iStock.

In many places it's the juxtaposition between these two forces — plant life and fire — that create truly beautiful forests.

6. Sometimes places on Earth seem to defy the laws of physics, like these incredible, balancing mountains in China where green trees thrive against the pale, steep, rock face.

Zhangjiajie National Park, China. Image from iStock.

7. Our weather is a balancing act too.

A storm approaches Sydney, Australia. Image from Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

8. A balance that can be both beautiful and tremendous.

Image from iStock.

9. Sometimes it's a balance of what's inside versus outside. This infrared scan of a hurricane highlights the incredible juxtaposition between the howling winds and peaceful eye of the storm.

Image from NOAA Picture Library/Flickr.

10. Sometimes it's the opposite. Things are peaceful outside and roiling inside.

Image from iStock.

11. The ocean is also great at showing this juxtaposition. The Earth is really two worlds, after all — one above the waves and one below.

Image from iStock.

12. Not to mention the way the human world bumps up against the wild one just beyond our carefully constructed borders.

Image from Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

13. In the grand scheme of things, humankind is just another part of the balance. Balanced both with ourselves...

A single shot shows both the new and the old in Rio de Janeiro. Image from iStock.

14. ...and with nature. Nairobi is one of Africa's fastest growing cities, but just outside its borders is the wilderness of the savanna.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

It's sometimes easy to see the divisions in everyday life and wish we could all be the same. It's tempting to say that we don't need labels or boxes because they divide us, but when you step back and look at Earth from a distance, you can see that it's the balance of multiple different forces that brings it — that brings us — together to make it beautiful.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
True

Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Kristen Wilson/Twitter, Ian Bremmer/Twitter (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson)

As more footage from last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol comes out, we're getting a fuller picture of what took place that day. And frankly, it's terrifying.

We've now seen the gallows erected outside of the Capitol and the rioters shouting "Hang Mike Pence!" We've seen reports of insurrectionists carrying zip tie restraints and now know how close we were to possibly witnessing lawmakers being taken hostage—or worse—live on TV. We've seen journalists attacked, a policeman dragged down steps and beaten with an American flag, and feces and urine left in the hallways and offices of the U.S. Capitol.

One piece of footage that has emerged shows how one Capitol Police officer's bravery may have saved members of the U.S. Senate. Officer Eugene Goodman found himself alone and confronted with a mob forcing him backwards up a stairway within the Capitol. Video from HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic shows Goodman attempting to hold back the rioters, but he is clearly outnumbered. They keep pushing him farther and farther up the stairs, toward the floor where the Senate chambers are.

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Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


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