Updated: Jul 21, 2019
“An earthquake revealed to me that balance is not about stability or rigidity, but the ability to yield and move.” Steven Petrow
It has been a while since my last blog post. Almost eight weeks in fact. I have thought about writing it many times. I have felt guilty that the momentum I had around Christmas has totally evaporated and left me devoid of words to lay forth on the page. And it’s not just my blog. I lament my novel sitting despondently on my laptop, waiting patiently for me to click ‘file open’. Even my computer mocks me when I finally open the file, greeting me with a sarcastic Welcome back. It’s been 32 days since you last opened this file. Yes, I am well aware of that.
And why haven’t I written? In a word, LIFE. Busy, chaotic, crazy life. My head has been filled with so many other things that have taken priority in my thoughts that my words have temporarily been shunted off the main track and into the siding. They are still there, constantly assailing me with fragments of sentences, but are hastily pushed aside as more urgent matters are resolved. I woke up this morning and said to myself ‘today is the day.’ It was my intention to embrace the morning quiet of my home and write my latest post. Yet instead, I spent the bulk of the day drifting between the kettle and Facebook. Weariness won out. Don’t get me wrong, I came across some fabulous links to some inspiring and fascinating articles which I loved reading, but here I sit at almost 3pm and my blog post remains unwritten.
But then, whilst opening yet another link, I stumbled across an article written by American journalist and author, Steven Petrow called ‘What Yoga Taught Me About the Balanced Life.’ http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/what-yoga-taught-me-about-the-balanced-life/ In it, Steven speaks of his search for balance since he was in his thirties, which was in the late 1980’s. His moment of clarity came in a recent yoga class as he stared down at a green yoga block inscribed with the words Life. Balance. Growth. His reaction was to let rip with an expletive that balance was total bull#@%* and he fell out of his yoga pose. He later discussed his frustration with his teacher who told him “Personally, I think balance is a fallacy. It’s presented in society as something that can be achieved, but in reality it’s not an achievable goal.”
Seeking further guidance, he approached one of his life guides, Susan Piver, for her words of wisdom. Those of you who have read my post about Serendipity http://ordinarymagic.me/2014/12/07/the-magic-of-serendipity/ will also know that I am a huge fan of the delightful Susan and am part of her online meditation group, The Open Heart Project. When asked for her views, Susan replied “Is it ever possible to be balanced? I don’t think that it is because then you’d have to freeze in that position. GOT IT! NOW DON’T MOVE!” She went on to say that “balance is not so much striking or holding the pose, but flowing with the movements that affect your pose. The more quickly you can respond and make those adjustments – that’s balance. Balance comes from adapting quickly.”
The analogy between balance in yoga and balance in everyday life inspired me to write this post. I know for me that balance meant being able to juggle all the balls life threw at me but still finding time for myself. It was a place where calm prevailed even when I had a lot on my plate. It was this penultimate goal to be ALL things to ALL people and still be able to do the things that I wanted to do. I had this idea that if I set up a rigid, successful system for my life, almost like a schedule, then I would be able to find the balance I was yearning for. My inner perfectionist was brilliant at creating a colour-coded spreadsheet of my life (figuratively speaking). It took into consideration paid work, house work, running kids around, helping to look after the needs of my elderly father who lived independently in his own home (read that as he’s not really independent!) and also finding time for catching up with family and friends, reading and partaking in my beloved writing. Last year was very unbalanced. The time to pursue MY passions just didn’t materialise. No worries I said to myself. 2015 will be different. In a non-selfish way, 2015 will be about me. Obviously that didn’t mean that I would abandon my responsibilities, but with my careful planning, all would flow smoothly. There would be BALANCE. On paper it looked doable. But then life happened and my perfectly laid plans turned to s#@%! Balance went out the window.
I have come to realise that I can’t constantly be all things to all people and maintain my equilibrium (or my sanity). But I’ve also come to realise that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Steven Petrow said, “Balance is about flexibility and change, not stasis or symmetry. Anything that challenges my equilibrium or anyone who tries to throw me off-kilter will actually improve my balance because day by day I’m learning to be nimble, deft and keep my focus.” So I take from that, that even though I often feel like I’m drowning, overwhelmed and am pushed beyond my limits, in reality I am improving my balance to handle all the challenges that are to come.
Google defines balance as “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady” and I think I have re-defined what it means to have balance in MY life. Balance isn’t about smooth sailing. It’s not about the perfect ratio between good and bad. It’s about getting up each day and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about hanging on for dear life, through the stormy seas and getting into port still standing and saying thank God I made it!