Return To Balance
It’s interesting. Each week, as I think about and write these essays, there seems to conveniently be some reoccurring theme in my life. Am I looking for these things, or does my subconscious just manifest them in the forms of people and conversations? I’m not sure. I am sure, however, that this week’s theme is balance.
Balanced is one of those weird words we use to describe people, but we’re never really quite sure what it means. We have sayings like, “she’s well rounded” or “he's got a great work-life balance”, but it all feels so vague. What does it actually mean, to be balanced? And why do we want it?
The Role Of Balance In Life
You learn that balance is good from a very young age. If you know the story of Goldilocks you know there’s some magical middle option out there that’s, “just right”. When you get older, you expose yourself to different extracurricular activities because it’s important to have a “well balanced” personality. As you begin your career, you strive to find the right balance between your professional and personal life.
When things are extreme, they become less sustainable, so we tend to stress and try to get back to the middle ground. But it doesn't have to be like this. That was my revelation.
Balance Is A Wave
Balance is actually a wave, not a straight line. In life, we tend to think we should maintain total emotional consistency. If we’re not happy, it’s a problem. If we’re too committed to something or someone, it’s a problem, if we’re not committed enough, it’s a problem. But is it?
Or, are you actually just riding the wave? Tonight, as I waited for my friend, I read Walt Whitman poems. “I ebb’d with the ocean of life,” says Whitman. Isn’t that what we’re really doing — ebbing and flowing, from one extreme to the other, never staying in the middle for very long?
Ride The Wave
The alternative topic this week was going to be resilience. I heard not one, but multiple heartbreaking, but inspiring stories of people overcoming what most of us would consider total tragedy. Then I realized, how I could weave these ideas together.
Whether you’re the phoenix or the pile of ashes, you must recognize yourself as such. At the same time, you must also see the impermanence of your status. We don’t really live in a medium bowl life. In reality, we’re most likely alternating from the little bowl, to the big bowl, the short bed, to the big bed, and the hot soup to the cold. A balanced life doesn’t look like a straight line, rather, a wave with peaks and troughs.
One way you can improve your balance is to explore the extremes. When you increase the amplitude of your wave, you can build your tolerance for the space between. Some nights, you might be stuck at the office, while others, you can snuggle with your family around a warm fire. These are the ebbs and flows. It’s time to ride the wave.