Posted in Well-being

Harmony

Those who seek balance are chasing a fleeting achievement. I’ve often described it as trying to relax on top of a ball. Once you are in balance, a mere breath will topple you.

If the world were balanced, there would be no ebb and flow. True balance allows for abundance and drought; a constant correction of direction. I spent years seeking unattainable balance in my life.

Then I began my quest for peace. Peace is attainable. It’s the calm of meditation. It’s the acceptance of imperfection. It’s the courage of authenticity.

Some people say peace is the same as happiness but I think it might be closer to harmony — The yin and the yang. Knowing there’s good in the hardships and downsides to every opportunity. And accepting them both in stillness and gratitude.

If balance is like sitting atop a ball, peace is like floating down a river. There will be rapids and quiet waters, but you can rest assured youre still in the water.

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

And This Too Shall Pass

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Everything and everyone are temporary.  Some things are temporary longer, but never permanent.  The oldest thing you can think of will someday be as gone and forgotten as tomorrow’s Top 40.  Is this too deep for a Sunday morning?  I apologize.  I’m in a melancholy mood.

How, you ask, is this woebegone thinking going to dig me out of the doldrums?  When I mention my thoughts on this out loud, at least one person will eventually tell me I’m depressing.  I understand.  Life is art.  Your perspective depends on where you are standing.   Lack of permanence is comforting or unnerving depending on your perspective.

Abraham Lincoln, in an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, once said,

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Sometimes we control how long something will be temporary.  We can take action; re-cut a bad haircut, remove a tattoo.  We can take a break or even quit a job or relationship.  I prefer not to stay in an unacceptable situation if it shows no sign of change.  I left an employer over a decade ago, because I needed different hours.  I asked if there was any way to change my shift, and they said no.  It was a fine place to work, but it just didn’t fit my family needs.  Several people mentioned how they should leave too, for various reasons, but mostly because they hated it there.

Upon handing in my two-week notice, a couple of managers approached me.  They wanted me to stay.  They would have offered me different hours.  They would have trained me in different areas.  They really had high hopes for me.  Would I consider staying?  “Sorry,” I said.  “I already have another job.”  Perhaps if they had known I was so very temporary, they have valued me more from the onset.

When I go back to that place, I still see a couple of those people who said they wanted to leave.  If you wait for change to fall in your lap, you might have to wait a long time.  After a while you forget you have a choice.  Time flies when you’re having fun, but disappears forever when you’re not.

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When things are really bad, I mean really bad, caring friends will ask, “Are you okay?”  To which I reply, “I’m fine.”  When they ask if I’m sure, I say, “What else am I going to be?”  I suppose the obvious answer to that is “not fine.”  But as long as I’m conscious and breathing, I make the choice to be fine.  The rest is temporary.

In my car this morning, Alanis Morissette was singing through the stereo.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

She sings of the yin and yang of life.  The fact that I gravitate toward the yang when the yin of life weighs me down is a healthy thing.  I write.  I walk.  I get out of the house.  I look for beauty in the world.  I find beauty within myself.  I know both light and dark are temporary, and find delight and grief in their brevity.

So, yeah.  I’m a little introspective and quiet this morning.  And a little melancholy.

And this too shall pass.

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

Are You Living a Life of Balance or Control?

 

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

    Yin and yang stones
    Yin and yang stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • 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.

Barbara Billingsley in the pilot "It's a ...
Barbara Billingsley in the pilot “It’s a Small World”, 1957. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 . . .