Balance is a condition in which an object is subject to equal forces or weights, enabling it to remain steady. The world is in constant flux. Nature is in an endless state of rebalancing itself. Humans, being more of nature than we are willing to admit, are drawn to the never-ending endeavor to balance.
Chances are, in the past twenty-four hours you have thought about balancing at least three the following:
- Workload vs. Personal Time
- Relationships vs. Solitude
- Spending vs. Saving
- Weight Gain vs. Weight Loss
- Sleep vs. Wake
- Exercise vs. Rest
- Perfection vs. Acceptance
- Beauty vs. Function
- Work vs. Play
Since the beginning of time, we have pontificated the meaning of balance. Think yin and yang, buddhism and dualism. The ancient Greeks, Chinese, and the Aztecs all had great philosophers of balance. Give the word balance a go in your search engine, and you will see that nothing has changed in over two thousand years. Humankind still seeks the point of balance.
The problem with being human, is that we not only strive for a thing, we believe we can conquer it. We seek to achieve balance, as if it is something that is owned and kept. However, balance is only present for the fleeting moment between too much and too little; on the border between light and dark. The point of balance is so fragile that a soft breeze or speck of dust can overcome it.
A world with true balance would be one without wind or heat or rain. The cost of balance is monotony.
Life is not meant to be balanced. In our struggle to own balance, we have moved away from the natural ebb and flow of equilibrium. We have shifted toward a desire to rigidly control it. We believe that if only we could control everything (see the above list), existence would be a breeze. In our vision of a balanced life, we are prepared for any situation; there is time for all our duties and passions. We are healthy, happy, financially secure, and love what we do for a living. Yet, the natural world is not one of total control. It is fluid, in motion, swinging one way and then the next.
I spent too many years trying to devise the perfect menu plan, budget, schedule, diet. I tried to control the motion around me. Each day was a new chance and every bedtime was another failure. Friends hear me say that June Cleaver was my idol, and we joke about that, but it was real. Many of my best years were lived trying to be a fictional character in a time period that no longer existed. The time with my children — the laughs, the things I learned, the privilege — I wouldn’t trade for anything on earth. If only I hadn’t felt such a need to control it all . . .
While the cost of perfect balance is monotony, the cost of maintaining control is turmoil. A person believing he can achieve balance is one fighting against the natural movement around them. He is trying to stand still in the surf or stop the wind from destroying a house of cards. It is not the peaceful existence he had hoped for at all.
I am learning to enjoy a life of natural balance — shifting when the tide rolls in, regrowing after the fire dies out, appreciating the warmth of the sun before nightfall . . . because I cannot tell the sun when it is time to set.
I have found life is more peaceful this way. Sure I am still drawn to making the compulsive list or two. They can be found tucked in backs of drawers or folded between the pages of books. And so I allow myself these occasional fits of contemplation, pen in hand, eventually admitting that the balance is in the imperfection and the letting go of control.
Peace . . .