Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finding Balance

In our day and age, the word balance is almost a dirty word. Life balance is unattainable, if not just plain undesirable. But, what exactly is balance?

According to the dictionary, balance is:

an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

Often when the idea of balance is eschewed, it is because everything can't be equal. Duh! Sleep, work, taking care of kids, play, hobbies, etc, can not have equal/even-steven time and effort.

But, life can be in proportion. Life can be distributed in correct proportions so a person can remain upright and steady.

Life balance is like an old fashioned scale. On the one side you have the weights. On the other side you have the items being weighed.

The weights are constant. A five pound weight is always 5 pounds. No more, no less.

The objects being weighed can vary in size and weight. But, they keep getting piled on the scale until both sides are equal. Neither is higher or lower than the other.

Time and effort and energy are like the weights. They are pretty constant. Finite. Measurable.

Life is the objects being weighed. Sometimes we pile much, and sometimes we pile little, onto the scale, until it inevitably balances with available time and energy.

Everything put on the scale is not equal in time or energy consumption. But each takes its own chunk of the available. Life balance isn't about everything being equal, it is about the weight being in the correct proportions. Because only so much can fit. 

It involves a give and take. A reckoning with the unchanging scale of available time and energy. It means unequivocally, that every yes requires a no.

More exercise may mean less sleep. More school may mean less exercise. More cooking may mean less cleaning. More child care may mean less reading. More career may mean less blog posts. More cups of coffee on the porch to the tune of birds chirping may mean less frenetic to-do lists.

Balance may look like a jam packed schedule one week, and a fairly open schedule the next. 

It is not necessarily a matter of good and bad. It is often a matter of better and best. It could be a matter of quality rather than quantity. Or even of necessity over preference. Urgent or important. Life seasons.

Constant adjustments and shiftings of weight and proportions.

Life balance is like a scale. Life balance is like riding a bike. That renown activity that once we learn, we never forget...

Balance on a bike is crucial. But, it doesn't always mean that everything is even. Balance on a bike requires leaning in to curves to stay upright. Balancing on a bike with a toddler on the back means exerting extra pressure on the front handlebars to counteract the burden on the back. Balance on a bike requires momentum and forward movement. Only the most talented amongst us can balance on a bike at a full stop.

Balance in life means doing what we need to do to stay upright and steady. It means that if we are going through a season of burden and weightiness, we can only add so much more-whether light or heavy. Balance in life means adjusting our expectations-of ourselves and others. 

What do you think of the idea of balance? Is balance something you strive for or do you think it is a pipe dream?