Against the Idea of Balance
So here is a thought experiment: What if despite all our best attempts, there is actually no way to achieve that elusive thing so many of us seek called balance?
The idea of balance sounds so nice, doesn't it? That if we could just figure out how to manage our lives well enough we would never feel as if one part was getting short shrift. We would feel as if we were finally "on top of things."
But trying to attain that ideal (for truly, it is an ideal) also leads to the belief that there is this magical answer, this solution to all our problems. A way to do it "right." And it is this belief that leads us to constantly searching and feeling like we are coming up short.
I read something that Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) posted on Facebook while back which stuck with me:
Balance, when we do find it, is a breathtakingly temporary condition. We stand upon a world that spins at 2000 miles an hour. Our minds, meanwhile, spin at 200,000 miles an hour. We collide every day with other humans who are also sliding and spinning wildly. The landscape of our lives, therefore, changes by the minute. You find your balance one day and think, "Hooray! I have solved it" and then five minutes later the world utterly transforms again, and you're knocked on your ass one more time.That's just how life is on this planet — messy, fast, out of control, unpredictable. It's all terribly interesting, but also terribly unstable.That being the case, I dropped the myth of BALANCE a long time ago. (I buried it right next to PERFECT.) My life seems happiest — as I tried to explain to this young woman the other night — when I just surrender to the madness, and embrace the glorious mess that I am...and also when I embrace the glorious mess that everyone else is, and the glorious mess of the world itself. My life gets the most painful when I try to set the entire mess (myself other people, life itself) into order.The world is like a dropped pie most of the time. Don't kill yourself trying to put it back together. Just grab a fork and eat some of it off the floor. Then carry on.
I love that last part.
This does not mean that we don't try to cut back when we are doing too much or take breaks or do self care or refocus or change direction when needed. But sometimes I think that the best thing that we can do when we get overwhelmed is not to keep striving for balance, but rather to just admit that what we are dealing with is hard. If it was not hard we would have figured out the answers by now and would not be stressed. We need to be gentle and give ourselves credit for holding it together as well as we are, not give ourselves a hard time for being "out of balance."
The good news is that life constantly changes and it won't stay the way that it is forever. It will either get better and more manageable or it will get completely unmanageable and we will then be able to find a solution out of desperation.
So yes, we need to try to find ways to change things to make our lives easier and to adjust when needed. But we need to also remember that there is no magic answer out there and that everyone else is just winging it too.
I have found that acceptance of what is (even if what is sucks right now) can often release some of the pressure that I am feeling (which often paradoxically helps me figure out what I need to do).
So maybe we just need to grab that fork and enjoy that dropped pie and trust that the rest will take care of itself.
Interesting to at least contemplate, right?