Balance is overrated. I’m pretty sure that pursuit of a balanced life might get in the way of a much more pleasing life of purpose.
I say this despite having spent a lot of time on a Gibbon Slackline (a kind of tightrope).
I have come to view balance as a very important aspect of exercise: co-ordination, spatial awareness, stability. While I’m at it, my body is literally rewiring itself, my brain reintroducing itself to and integrating with the rest of my body, while my mind empties – the perfect state for unbidden thoughts to gush in. How cool is that??
At the same time, I’m also beginning to think that’s perhaps as far as I should take the idea of balance. A good idea for exercise but a poor idea for living life.
Balance invites a tangible, measurable idea of living. A juggling act of the different parts of a compartmentalised life. For example, seeking a “work / life balance” can lead you to think that a good result is not working too many hours and ensuring you have a satisfactory allocation for living. That’s not very exhilerating. Balance is an outcome, and worse than that, it’s hardly ever attained.
Purpose is of a higher order in the way it threads through all parts of life and addresses the whole. Work, family, hobbies, exercise, whatever compartments that used to need juggling instead become integrated aspects of the same concept: the common, exciting reason for doing each of them.
If balance is an outcome, purpose is a journey.
It integrates all the physical, measureable compartments of balance, along with the more spiritual immeasurables, such as dreams, values and beliefs.
Life can be wobbly, like walking on a slackline. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m steady or not, as long as I’m happy about why I’m on it in the first place.
Getting deep bro….you aren’t going to decide to “do an ashlegh” and set off to China to the mountains and become a monk are you?
Needless to say work to live v live to work. I take the first as it leads to a more “balanced” lifestyle in my world 🙂
Hi Chris, I like your thoughts about balance. Personally I have never managed to walk on a slack line,
but over the years I got better at juggling different things. As long as I enjoy those compartments of my life I m juggling (Kids, family, friends, travelling to new places, my writing and my Zumba), I’m happy. As I get older I also get better at being more selective about the things I do. But I agree with you, helping others should be at the top of the list in our priorities. Having said that, I have never gone as far as lending my umbrella to a mother and her child and get wet. So I guess I still have a long way to go. Anyway I like your blog and I like your drawings. Carry on.
Thanks a lot for your comment, it’s really nice when someone takes the time and effort to do that.
It’s funny, I met someone yesterday who is in investment banking, and she was describing how she likes to keep her work identity well away from her life identity, keep it compartmentalised. I used to think exactly the same way! She went on to say that when she escapes on holiday, she pretends to be someone else. Last time it was a florist. But if you are pretending to be the work version of you, or a florist, then no-one can really care enough about you to really like you or dislike you, you just trundle along never deeply engaging with anyone.
Life can feel like a juggling act and in many ways it is, limited with time and so many interesting things to do, like writing, acting, zumba, meeting friends. I see that as a different thing, and very positive, as long as the same version of me is turning up to each pursuit.
Juggling identities is very exhausting though, and stressful, whether it’s a work/home dual identity, or a wife/mother/daughter triple identity. I have found that it’s easy to treat these identities as separate beings and try to juggle them in an attempt to get the underlying person balanced.
The alternative that I see, is to treat them not as separate roles, but all the same thing. Find the authetic person and be that person at work, home, with friends, children, parents, – rather than playing roles that are expected of you (in other’s minds or just in your own). Otherwise the real person gets sacrificed along the way.