Monday, May 13, 2013

The Balance

Something bothered me the other day.  Since I have a blog, and simply because I can, I'm going to work through it here.  Sometimes I just need a sounding board to bounce my thoughts off of.

It all started when a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook about lies that moms are told.  You know the kind of article.  Witty, funny, but still true enough that you feel like you've got a slightly new perspective on life...but one of the points really hit me wrong.  "Life is about balance."  As a lie that moms are told.  I think that the point the author was trying to make was that you shouldn't try to juggle everything possible, but instead, maybe focus on what matters most to you.  Which is not invalid, I guess.  But saying that life isn't about balance seemed so wrong to me.

I guess part of it is who I am, as a person.  I'm very much about balance.  I like fun, I like work.  I enjoy time alone, I love to be around others.  I pinch my pennies, but make some indulgent purchases.  And the article hurt me, because one of the things that I, over and over, tell friends of mine who are looking for advice, or who are in a hard spot in life, is "You'll find your balance, it'll be okay.".  So, have I been lying to them all this time?

I guess it depends, like most things, on your perspective.  It depends on your definition of "balance", and how it fits for you.  Let me explain where I come from when I think of balance:

Picture a meadow, with an infinite fence running through it.  On the fence is a child, walking on the fence like a tightrope, driven with the task to walk the fence as long as she can.

At first, perhaps older people helped show her how to walk the fence.  Maybe they held her hand and helped her find her footing.  They may have started by leading her, and then moved on to giving her more and more distance.

Walking the fence can be fun for the child at times.  At other times, it may be exhausting or boring.  She may happily skip down the length of fence.  She may not feel well, and need to slow down her pace.  The child continues on, one foot in front of the other, walking the fence.

For a while, the fence is straight and easy to walk on. Then, it gets more tricky.  The fence may be crooked. There may be part of the fence that is rotten and might crumble under any pressure.  There may be parts of the fence completely missing, and the child has to determine if she has the power and skill needed to make the leap safely.  And she may fail.

She may fall off the fence, and she'll have to brush herself off and get right back on it.  Or maybe she's hurt badly, and it takes her some time until she's ready to go on.  Maybe she starts back on the fence before she realizes how hurt she is, and then has to stop and reevaluate how to continue.

The view from the fence is full of distractions.  Beautiful flowers, cloud shapes against a blue sky, butterflies skittering across the air around the child.  She can see things in the distance that she couldn't have seen from the ground below, and she is glad she's where she is.

Picture a snake, sunning itself on the fence, in the path of the child.  She needs to make a decision.  Should she abandon the fence?  Should she gather courage and confront the snake?  Should she attempt to skip right over it, or get down, pass around the snake, and hop back up?

Sometimes, other fences intersect the fence the child walks, and she has to make the choice to continue on the fence that she has learned, or to try a new direction.  There may be other children walking other fences, and some may join her on her walk.

People may offer the child tools to use on her journey.  The rollerblades a well-meaning friend gives for speed may prove to not be useful at all.  The balancing bar given by another may help her stay steady, but the weight of it will bring her to the point where she either needs to build the strength to carry on with it, or to make the decision to abandon it and to keep walking on her own.

She may find something along the way, a trinket or an answer.  She might lose something along the way as well.  The weather may bring sunny skies, which can be warming or cause a sunburn, or snowy storms, which make it hard to find her footing and even more difficult to see the way.

The child may have treasure that she carries with her, a favorite doll or a lucky penny.  These too can be found and lost.

That's kind of how I feel about my journey through life.  There's always a lot going on.  Some of it is helpful, some of it is harmful.  I move of my own persuasion, but others do have influence.  There are also things out of my control.  But the most important thing for me is to keep my balance.  As long as I am balanced, I am able to look around and enjoy the view and the experience.

And there are times when I loose my balance.  I fall off the fence.  I get scared by the snakes.  I get distracted by the butterflies.  I try an intersecting fence and then have to double back because I don't like the direction it leads.  I stupidly try the rollerblades, even though I know they are a bad idea.

But I hop back up, and I regain my balance.

Maybe life's not all about balance.  But sometimes, having balance can make all the other things seem a little less strenuous.

So, is it bad for me to wish others more balance in their lives?  I'm not sure.  But, in the end, I just hope we all enjoy the walk we each take on our own fence.  And, if my friends need help along the way, I hope that they know that they can reach for my hand.

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