by Jake Block
by Jake Block
“Are we ever all that we could be
Trading in our fantasy?
We live this part time life
Of false security.
Seems to me that doers never dream enough
And dreamers often do nothing at all.
And to find that middle ground is rough;
But I’ll be damned if I let go
And stop looking for the balance.”
— The Balance (John Kay and Steppenwolf)
Balance is fundamental, and taught to us early on as children with a simple see-saw. We can easily see where balance lies, as we sit staring at the person on the opposite side of that simple wooden plank atop the fulcrum. Centered we with equal weight we know the concept. Unless more weight is added on one side and not the other, balance… stasis… occurs. But sooner or later our partner in play changes the balance by applying downward pressure to the see saw and we go up. Soon, gravity brings us down and we counteract that by applying upward pressure ourselves. Over and over we rise and fall naturally trying to find that point of balance and using our personal power to force it to our advantage. After a while, with two people playing and cooperating to make this simple child’s toy work efficiently, we can pass time enjoying the ride.
Soon, we begin to think that this ride could go on and we could simply enjoy the controlled rise and fall of the apparatus forever. But sooner or later, and it’s probably happened to all of us at least one time, our play partner becomes bored and decides to shift their weight when their control of the apparatus has us high in the air and they hold us there, taunting and laughing. After a while, they slide off of the see-saw with us at the high end, and we learn the painful lessons. “What goes up must come down, (gravity),” and that at some point, everyone loses their balance.
Life isn’t easy. When we’re young and inexperienced, we see life as a cycle of working, resting and a third cycle of recreations. But the older we get, and the more our lives evolve, we find that seldom are things so easy to delineate. Our working life soon becomes a balancing act of work AND our life outside of our fight to make enough to live in a manner to which we become accustomed. Soon, a wife and kids intrude into our methods of making a living and we learn that we have to compromise and make adjustments to accommodate both, and this often means we have to sacrifice part of our rest cycle or our recreation cycle, or both! Eventually, we might find balance, but it’s an elusive state, as life is change… often and with little notice.
I think that in the linear sense, being the span of a lifetime, balance isn’t so much like a see-saw, but more on the order of a tightrope. It’s a moving and undulating thing, far more susceptible to outside forces than a heavy plank on a fulcrum, and “balance” involves not only equalizing the forces directly in opposition to you, but to the left, right, above, below, and angles acute and obtuse as well. All of these must be taken into account at one time or another, and often all at once. When one finds balance in life, it can be a beautiful thing. Picture someone you think has found a sense of balance in life. In many ways, they might remind you of that elegant tightrope walker with balancing pole in hand, gliding across the span gracefully. They easily handle the tremors and wobbles along the way. If they are nervous or upset, it seldom shows. They just handle the stresses and go on with the sho, for the show must always go on.
Being in balance, or seeming to be, is an art in and of itself. Many people never quite master it. But those who do are masters at compartmentalization, placing every aspect of their lives in a mental box, where they can take out those that are needed for a task at hand and work with them, shunting the the others into the queue. They have learned to separate and delegate responsibilities, even with themselves. They make it look masterfully easy, like the legendary Flying Wallendas tightrope act, in which the entire family performed a death-defying pyramid high above the ground on a cable with no net below to catch them if the should fall. But make no mistake. Everyone falls, sooner or later and we hope that when it is our turn, we can find a way to right ourselves, or at least manage to grasp the rope and keep from plummeting to the ground.
Even the Flying Wallendas fell, and as graceful and prepared as they were, one day, in one moment of lapsed concentration, tragedy struck. The show will go on, even if you fall, so do your best to be prepared by finding a way to maintain balance in your life, and even if you think you’ve mastered living, I would always suggest that you hedge your bet with an adequate safety net.