I don’t believe much in balance.
You know, the dream of managing and balancing all the different parts of our lives so that everything fits together neatly, without stress. That kind of balance is a myth and a fantasy. It’s just the old dream of having everything at once, in slightly different wording. The dream of not having to choose.
We’re so easily seduced by the idea of the solvable life puzzle. Ourselves on top of life, our days filled with the right people, the right activities, the right stuff – our energy perfectly distributed and no overwhelm. It can be done. Right? We can do it, if we only find the balance.
It’s a fantasy.
And we never ever make it. A moment here and there the construction seem to hold together, we balance on top of it, afraid to draw breath in case we cause it all to collapse. Which it does, inevitably.
The striving for balance causes so much stress – the very same stress it claims to relieve us from. It creates a constant feeling of not enough-ness.
We claw our way through life in our efforts to make it work, stressing and fretting trying to make everything fit. The prize we pay is that nothing ever gets to be wholehearted. That we never fully succeed, never fully commit, and never truly rest.
I’ve quit that race. No more striving for balance.
Life happens in rushes and pauses. It’s not manageable, but we don’t actually have to manage it.
We can respond instead of trying to control. We can dive into whatever we do, focus wholeheartedly on whatever is in front of us. And then we need to recover. Then our family needs us. The body needs tending. Which means we’ll have to pause some other area for a while. It’s a dance. It’s improv all the way.
When we’re trying to bring a dream to life, whether it’s writing a book or building a business, we might need to downsize our social life for a while. Maybe we’ll eat take-out every day of the week, maybe we won’t travel at all for a year, or three. Probably won’t do the kitchen re-make.
We must allow ourselves to choose like that. That level of prioritizing is what we must ask of ourselves if life is to grow beyond a half-finished puzzle.
Nothing truly great has ever come out of a neatly managed life, and I want great. I want wholehearted. I want what feels good over what looks good. I want success, but my own version of it.
The reward for giving up the idea of balance comes in depth and presence. The kind of presence that is the only real remedy for stress anyway.