Monday, July 7, 2008
Balance is a Dance
Spiral staircase at the Hotel Gerloczy in Budapest.
So many people are throwing out the term "work-life balance" these days, you may not even think much about what it means. Surely you know what balance is, and you know that it means that work and life should be split, and if you had to put a figure to the ratio, you would probably think of it as 50-50, right?
The trouble that most people have with this concept is that they see it in fixed terms, like a pie chart or an image of scales hanging in balance, motionless.
Why is this a problem? The moment you envision balance in your life as a fixed ideal is the moment you begin to get out of balance. Stand on one leg. Go ahead. Stand up right now and do it. If your balance is good, it shouldn't be much effort, though you'll probably feel your muscles making small adjustments to keep you upright. If a strong wind comes or someone brushes you on their way past, you will have to recalibrate to stay standing. You will waver a bit, maybe even sway, maybe even fall out of balance right before finding equilibrium again.
In this equilibrium, things appear motionless, fixed. But you know better--your muscles and body and brain are working in concert to keep you standing. Try to stand on one leg, but this time, close your eyes. Having trouble? It's very hard to stay balanced without the information from your eyes. Advanced yogis can do it, but it's not easy. In other words, real, intrinsic balance takes practice.
So, if things feel out of balance for you, don't despair if you're not living up to the pie chart of balance in your head that's 50% white and 50% black. Think of the symbol for yin and yang instead, and see the flowing lines and the bit of dark and white that dot the opposite halves. Observe the motion implicit in that symbol.
Realize that finding balance is not a fixed ideal, but a dance you practice. So you fall out of line a bit. That's OK. Dance back into balance, and don't worry too much about what you look like, or how perfectly your life is apportioned. Keep things moving. Feel the energy, gather information, keep dancing, and balance will follow.
And, for heaven's sake, don't mistake rigidity for balance.