Someone recently told me that balance doesn’t exist. Balance. As in the thing we’re all striving for in our lives. Doesn’t exist.
I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about it at the time. I wasn’t affronted, which might have been a natural reaction given the collection of hours I’ve amassed in the pursuit of this allegedly mythological creature. Neither was I able to shake it off with a derisive snort. Let’s just say the claim sparked some thought on the matter.
My OCD tendencies usually keep me fair distance from anything one might call balance. I don’t seem to be able to juggle seventeen missions simultaneously, allotting each a designated time slot in my day, resulting (I can only imagine) in one wholly satisfying, shockingly productive, entirely balanced 24-hour period. I’m more the dive-in-at-the-expense-of-everything-else-that-is-good-and-true-in-your-life type. While this explains my lengthy hovering periods before any dives into uncharted commitments, it does nothing to close the gap between me and the elusive balance. Maybe it is the stuff of legends (and frustrations).
Maybe not. I think the answer may lie in relativity. Not Einstein, per se, but sort of. It’s all in my frame of reference. I think that my assessment of the balance quest simply needs to have a wider-angle lens than I’m used to using. Balance, as a life goal, needs to be looked at over a longer term than my day or my week. Possibly even my year.
I once read a book on simple living. I don’t remember the title, or much beyond a few highlights, but there was one particular gem that stuck with me. The author was on a minor rant regarding folks who recreate by critiquing her children’s behavior, and her parenting skills (you know these people, don’t you?). She dealt with their helpful criticism by asking them to please reserve their judgment for at least one full year.
“I know, Aunt Marge. I know you’re concerned about Sammy’s penchant for giving his sister wet willies, and Chloe’s imprecise use of her dessert fork. Rest assured, both issues are being addressed. If, in one year’s time, you witness the same problems still manifesting in my children, then, and only then, may you bring it up to me. I think you’ll find that given a little time, they are perfectly capable of moving on to new things for you to worry about.”
I like her style. Character isn’t built in a day. Poor habits aren’t rooted out in a week. Parenting is a long-term plan. Becoming is a long-haul endeavor.
My life, when taken as a whole over the past decade, is seen in a much different light than any one 2-week period therein. As a whole, the qualities that I strive for in life (or at least a movement in their general direction) are evident, whereas any given chunk may or may not display any hint of those qualities. As a whole, I am able to see that a delicate balance has been struck. Between my myriad OCD obsessions, yes, but especially, and more importantly, between all the essentials of life. Everything gets its turn. What I view as essential changes, sometimes deepening into a dogma of life, sometimes melting into passionate rants of the past, but always finding their proper place in my life. Everything settles into its very own nook on the old priorities list.
This week, this day, right now, all I can do is make sure that I’m nudging all the balls I’m juggling in the right direction. Next year, or the one after that, I’ll have a better picture of how they’re falling, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy with the results, and how well-balanced things appear in the right light.
In the mean time, I’ll be rearranging the priorities on a minute-by-minute basis, just trying to muddle through with Ruth-Anne. If I’m not writing, I’m consumed elsewhere, attending to any number of my latest rages. The list these days is lengthy, but the best bets would probably be:
- the full-time battle with the computer manufacturer (the end may be in sight… I’m so excited I could pee)
- the battle to prepare a kid for college and the adventure beyond our little universe
- the irritating and incessant pestering of our hungry budget
Oh, the humanity. Here’s to recognizing your balance, even when it does its best to hide,