One summer, when I was maybe 21 years old, I rode my bike to my job as an assistant teacher at a nursery school.
Cruising down the sidewalk (on the left side of the street, I confess), I sped toward an intersection when I saw a car zip up along the cross street, about to take a right turn, directly in my path.
The driver was looking to his left as he rolled right into the crosswalk that I was about to ride through. Since I was approaching him from his right, he never saw me, and I was too close to the cross walk to stop.
I remember a feeling of stubbornness and spite (how dare this driver not look to his right before turning right!), not to mention a fair dose of youthful stupidity, as I thought to myself, “The hell with it, I’m crashing into this car, and it will serve him right for not looking!”
And crash I did. My front wheel slammed right into his right fender, and I flew over the handlebars and landed smack dab on the middle of his hood.
For what seemed like minutes (but was probably a few seconds), I remember being perfectly balanced on my left hip. Seriously — I could not pull myself out of balance! Or at least that’s how it felt. As if the world has ceased turning on its axis in order to keep me stable.
In the adrenaline-charged mental slow-down of those few seconds after the crash, while perched so perfectly on my hip, I remember thinking that I wished I could balance so well doing pirouettes in dance class!
For that brief moment, my body was utterly, perfectly in balance, and nothing could throw me off. Looking back across more than four decades on this planet, I don’t think I’ve experienced another moment of more perfect balance.
There are three important things to note about this:
1) Balancing on one’s left hip on the hood of a car, no matter how perfectly, has limited usefulness in life.
2) In order for my life to proceed in any useful fashion, I had to come out of that state of balance, get off the car, and move on.
3) Even if I had tried to stay in perfect balance on the hood of that car forever, at some point the car would have moved on, and I would have had to move.
The moral of this story
The thing about balance in life is that it’s continually moving. As I was saying in my Time to Glow session the other day, trying to find balance is like riding a unicycle. It just doesn’t work to be stock still — you’ve got to keep moving.
If you’ve ever seen a unicyclist, they’re always in motion, even when not traveling through space. Even the most experienced unicyclists are continually shifting their weight, the position of their limbs, which way they’re leaning. Maybe just in tiny little micro-movements, but movement nonetheless.
Life is like that. It needs continual adjusting to feel “balanced” and good at any given moment. What felt right yesterday may feel totally out of whack today, so it’s no good sticking with yesterday’s plans, strategies and tactics just because they worked at one point.
It’s a moving target, baby.
The other thing to keep in mind is this:
A balanced life — a life of overall balance — is naturally going to include periods of extreme imbalance.
Think about kids. If your dream life includes having a baby (mine doesn’t, but stick with me on this), your life is going to be turned upside down for a time after that baby comes. It just is. Where your energies might have been spread among a zillion other things before, when you have a kid suddenly all of that energy is diverted away from those other things and toward your new baby.
Which is how it should be.
If kids are part of your life plan, then that time of extreme imbalance is part of your overall balanced life.
I’ve kept this truism front of mind over the past couple of weeks as Life, and my “baby” (that being my business), conspired to pull me down off of my Wagon of Balance.
First, MB and I flew to Alabama to visit his parents (and can I say what a treat it is to actually LIKE my boyfriend’s parents! I mean, like, really like. Like truly enjoy spending time with them. This is a Very Good Thing.)
Travel always throws me off my regular routine, of course, but the road to Alabama was paved with good intentions for getting at least a little writing done, maybe on the plane and/or in the evenings. MB even charged up his spare netbook computer for me to bring along. (I, alas, being so impoverished [1st World Joke] that I do not have a laptop or tablet of my own [and if you’d happen to wish to provide me with one, I’d like a MacBook Air, please].)
But the netbook crashed immediately upon boot-up. Every time.
The Universe apparently decided that being on a computer was not how I should spend my time on this trip.
At least that’s what I took it to mean.
So although I did manage to meditate every day, and I even got a tiny bit of exercise (walking Fritz, MB’s parents’ Miniature Schauzer), I did not get any work done.
I decided to be fine with that.
Then after we got home, I found myself in a bit of a work triage, as not just one but three websites required quick conversion from Headway theme (affiliate link)* to Genesis theme (another aff link) as I migrated them from BlueHost (yep, aff) to Synthesis+Genesis premium hosting, and in the middle of this, the admin side of my main e-commerce site, Ketubahworks, suddenly broke and needed urgent rebuilding-from-the-ground-up.
Which I’m still in the middle of…
I’ve been in intense OCD Geek Mode ever since, my butt conforming itself to the outlines of my computer chair as I gnash my teeth over technical gremlins, trying to Get This Done.
It’s crazy. I’ve fallen totally off of my Great Bedtime Experiment wagon, I didn’t get a lick of exercise for two solid days, I’ve been sleeping an average of about 5 1/2 hours a night (due to adrenaline-induced insomnia) and I’ve even kinda forgotten to eat.
Face it, I’ve kinda forgotten I have a body!
I’m exhausted, I’m playing chicken with the migraine fairies, and I am supremely out of balance.
I also feel keenly alive, and intensely happy.
I’m living the life of my dreams, I’m stretching and learning and growing, I’m moving forward.
Balance, my sweets, is not the be-all-and-end-all.
Is it sustainable? Hell no! And I sure as hell don’t want to still be in OCD Geek Mode two weeks from now! But these periods of being supremely out of balance are part of an overall balanced life.
The secret of balance is that it’s an ongoing game of continual adjustments. When you know this, you can enjoy the game.
It also helps to know that staying up til 2am is not the way to treat myself with self-compassion, no matter how much I want to solve out the latest puzzle of website creation.
It’s now 10:07pm, and I am shutting down to get some shut-eye. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, when the balance-target to aim for will no doubt have shifted.
Wish me luck.
* If you click through one of these links and buy something, I’ll make some money. You have been warned. If you want to buy the something without sending a commission my way, DO NOT CLICK ONE OF THOSE LINKS! I’ll never know the difference, so I won’t be offended.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Looking for a little help bringing some balance into your own life? Check out my one-on-one coachsulting. I’ve got just a couple of openings at the moment, and am having a sale until those spots are filled. Click here for more info.