I wrote this post originally February 8, 2011 – but then forgot, or didn’t have time to post it! So much for the search for balance – lol! In any case, in this post I am beginning a transition in the way I look at the idea of “balance”, a transition I am further along even now, in no longer trying to achieve “balance” as it might be commonly defined by pop culture but seeing balance as that tension of living into the joy of life in spite of the chaos.
For years I have been seeking to live a life with balance. By balance I don’t mean the Eat, Love, Pray (or whatever order these words should be in) consumer-driven-self-love-fest-balance advocated on talk shows and morning shows in which our lives as the audience are made better by free give aways (not that I have a problem receiving or appreciating free stuff should anyone like to give some stuff away – hint, hint, Oprah or Ellen, if you are reading this!). Rather I mean balance as in finding those perfect chords which create the symphony known as holistic living, the pattern which brings one a sense of peace or calm or zen-like awareness and acceptance. At one point in my younger days, I mistook awareness and acceptance for giving-in, being complacent. Now I know that these are hard states to accomplish, in fact these states are not really “states” at all, much like being non-violent or having patience, they are practices, processes – a journey, not an end.
In the past year since my last post, I have had and cared for a child, graduated from seminary, celebrated anniversaries, created art, took on a mortgage, bought life insurance, been laid-up with muscle spasms in my back (fear not, dear reader, this injury is much better) and many other things. These events are beautiful and chaotic filled with worry, anxiety, sleeplessness, joy and laughter & most of all these events are totally ordinary. I am no closer to balance and begin to see that maybe I never will be. I begin to believe that perhaps balance, like monasticism or celibacy is a vocational calling – and a calling to which I am not called. What’s more the ideas I am drawn to in my life – those which delight, intrigue and have the most meaning to me – do not necessarily translate to a life of balance. The idea that we should all achieve balance is a myth born out of privilige and my middle class comfort . For instance, individuals and communities living in extreme poverty probably don’t waste time worrying about achieving balance, rather I imagine these folks worry about survival, and how to sustain their survival.
Certainly there are moments of balance in every life but I think the thing to strive for is joy – to have moments of great joy, and to develop compassion, to strive for what I know to be true and right and just and then to have the humility to know that I might be wrong.