Such calm! Such peace! Such lighting!
That’s the kind of image I think of when someone brings up balance. And. I mean. It is balance, of a sort. But this portrayal is problematic.
For one, it’s static. It looks effortless because we didn’t see this person get up on the tree stump, we didn’t watch them lift their leg – once, twice – as they tried and failed and tried again. We don’t see how long they held that pose before toppling to one side or the other. We don’t see the minute twitches in the muscles of their feet as they fight to maintain their balance.
Then there’s this human:
The chaos. The poise. The possibility that everything could fly apart at any moment. The persistence in staying on, staying up, by flinging yourself into the motion – and having fun.
There’s your balance.
There’s my balance.
When the thing you do for joy becomes your job, it’s futile to try and find balance in any one moment. Double so when you still have to keep a dayjob, when you have a toddler who is always on the verge of transforming into a maelstrom of tears and flung legos, when you’re trying to keep everyone fed and hydrated and properly clothed, bills paid and lawn mowed and basement eldritch horrors appeased.
Suddenly you’re working late into the night so you can hit your deadline and dinner’s been Whatever’s In the Cupboard + Crackers for several weeks and who even knows what the weather is because you haven’t actually gone outside in a few days and there are grumblings in the basement and your butt is sore from sitting and there’s a tower of dirty tea mugs next to the sink –
And then you hit send and you let out that breath of relief only to realize the bridge is still swinging and now you’ve just been flung off into the water of Things You’ve Been Putting Off for Too Long.
Like showering. The human body sure can smell bad, huh.
But the problems don’t stop with showering and precariously stacked mugs of old tea. The problems coalesce into exhaustion and general malaise because you weren’t taking care of yourself, either. And now the bridge is swinging the other way and you’re trying to climb back on, but instead you get flung further, this time into a cesspool. And it’s dragging you down and you know you gotta fight it, got get back to the bridge, but would it really be so bad just to sink?
Hmm, but wait – that’s what happens when you stay still. You don’t find balance. You sink.
Balance isn’t about finding peace and staying in place. It’s about keeping one split second ahead of disaster with a mad grin on your face. For good or evil, you gotta get back on that bridge and stay there, and the ride ain’t ending any time soon. So you’d better anticipate that next swing and turn that same momentum wot wants to throw you off into energy you can use.
In practice, that looks like:
- Keeping a strict 5am to whenever the toddler wakes up writing schedule
- Planning out easy & simple foods for the week, so even while stressed you can still grab something that is not just chocolate chips
- Handing the toddler off to your wife for a few hours because you really need to hit this deadline
- Ignoring your deadline in favor of spending a few hours at the park with the toddler & wife because this weather is amazing
- Spending an entire weekend cleaning out the garage / fridge / basement
- Occasionally skipping that strict 5am writing time to sleep in because the toddler exploded the night before
- Teaching the cats how to scoop their own litter boxes (still in progress)
- Dusting once every 2 years
- Paring down household chores as much as possible
- The occasional nap
- Maintaining a regular appeasement schedule for the eldritch basement horrors
- Long walks
- Short walks
But last, and, perhaps most importantly:
- Being open to completely rearranging your entire schedule at any time because life just keeps changing
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