When I think of balance, I imagine someone on pointe in ballet or an acrobat walking the tight rope. It all looks so elegant and effortless from the audience’s perspective. But I am sure neither of these performers would tell you balance is attained very easily. It comes with years of painstaking practice.
Sometimes I wonder when my life will feel balanced. As I work with clients, I hear it over and over again; “If my life could only be balanced I could accomplish so much, it would be so much better. I would stop yelling at my kids, my marriage would be so much better, I could accomplish so much more.”
We must remember that just as this picture has stones that were carefully placed to balance, we must also think carefully what we need to do to find balance.
In Central Oregon, near to where my sister lives in Sister (I know, I just love saying that), there are huge boulders balancing on pillars of ash. It is an unusual and amazing site. These stones are stationed exceedingly precariously, but have been balancing there for thousands of years. However, sometimes careless observers (or obnoxious, mindless youngsters) put a little tiny bit of force on them and they topple; a beautiful act of nature, destroyed by random acts of mindlessness.
These pictures present two ways we balance our lives. One is a natural erosion process. The most important aspects take precedence in a place of prominence and everything else simply erodes away naturally. This is what happens when a baby enters our lives or we make a huge career change, or really any major change in our life takes place if we are not being mindful and planful. That main event (person, job, illness, etc) rises to the top of our priorities and nothing else can even come into our mind’s eye because “it” is all we can focus on. Everything else erodes away and pretty soon, it sits at the top of our consciousness like an idol. However, it can topple off at any moment leaving us feeling vacant and lost.
The other illustration of balance, taken from the picture at the top of the page, is a more mindful and intentional approach. You have all kinds of priorities in your life. You can choose when and where and with whom you prioritize your time and energy, arranging these intentionally. Of course this seems like the better way to go, but I want to challenge this idea as well. We must realize that someone can come along and topple this stack of priorities as well. It isn’t very secure or steady.
The third picture displays what I believe is a paradigm shift of what balance truly looks like in a mindful life. Important events, people and priorities shift and change. Throughout life, they will change and lead you to new places, just like this path illustrates. When we intentionally place the stones in the order we need them each day, it turns our life into journey, rather than balancing act. Intentionally deciding which priorities are needed in your life each day and making sure you place those firmly on your path. These may be priorities like rising early, a quiet cup of coffee, exercise, time with your loved ones. These intentional activities build a life path of success and satisfaction. Then we “stack up” adding other priorities like these to the side of our path regularly. With intentional priority placements we make life happen while being freed up to add creativity and make positive memories. If we stay open to the opportunities that arise each new day while keeping in mind that there are certain activities that make a good smooth path most days, we can keep a steady foot from toppling over. Then, when unexpected roots pop up or someone comes along and pulls up one of your stones, it doesn’t trip you up…or if it does, at least it adds something interesting and less devastating to your path as you look back over this trail of stones, well placed, but still movable guiding you along this journey called life. Doesn’t that feel better than trying to balance stones on a pillar of ash or a precarious pile ready to topple over? Simply walk this path and place stones that make your journey feel solid and real. Stop the balancing act and start the steady path. balance, taken from the picture at the top of the page, is a more mindful and intentional approach. You have all kinds of priorities in your life. You can choose when and where and with whom you prioritize your time and energy, arranging these intentionally. Of course this seems like the better way to go, but I want to challenge this idea as well. We must realize that someone can come along and topple this stack of priorities as well. It isn’t very secure or steady.