It’s Simple. Really.
In recent years balance has gained what I think is a bad rap.
I’ve heard it said by more than one that balance is highly overrated. I’m sure that’s true of anything taken to extremes. Balance practiced as a juggling act of so many important things that there’s no time for spontaneity or play is detrimental and deadening. It soon belies its name, leaving the arts-of-living column and moving to one-more-wretched-must column.
By the same token, “my work is my play” can have a deleterious effect when taken to the extreme of all day every day. Work is still work whether we enjoy it or not. It still requires an application of faculties which is not play no matter how we parse it.
Working hard at play is very different from work as play.
I think we miss that while speeding headlong into day after week of work telling ourselves “I’m doing what is important. I’m doing what I want to do. I’m doing this to be filled with joy.” All of that is true.
And when there are deadlines and commitments and livelihood involved, the lightening of the load which play affords is no longer a counterweight to the stresses of work. That’s not negotiable, no matter how good we are at rationalizing; as my friend says, it’s physics.
So I’d make the case for the out-of-fashion notion of balance.
In all our priority setting frenzies, our retreats to reassess, our deep reflections and goal-finding, our seriously purpose-driven lives--I’d make a plea for balance, for time off from crisis management, for time to kick back with friends, for some room for the unplanned moment to occur. I used to think that always meant alone time because that’s the lack I felt so keenly.
The longing for quiet got so intense I built my life around the quest of it. I made it my work, never seeing how addicted to work I am. So now the seesaw has tipped and I long for a consistent date with friends, an every-two week thing I could count on for laughter and hearts touching hearts. I see that being a lifelong pendulum-swinger has taught me the cost of an “I’ll-get-to-that” way of going. “I’m too busy right now” doesn’t cut it any more because time waits not at all. The vacuum created by a dropped connection is soon filled with what’s important at the time.
We choose what’s important by our acts.
Putting off the nurturing of friendships will allow them to wither to relationships-with-a-history. In time, they will drop to the we-must-have-lunch category, and though we are glad to see each other in passing or for the occasional cuppa, that will be all there is. Perhaps we can still call out to each other when the chips are down, when the need is great, but sharing of ordinary days that makes hearts sing and go cheerfully back to work cannot be sustained by memory alone.
So yes, life moves on.
We change and grow and outgrow habits, patterns, ideas. The dreams become realities or shape-shift to more dreams to draw us along life’s path. If we make these changes to keep vital and do it without growing a small circle of friends, we live a thinner life. A little dab won’t do in this case. We are built for finding companions for the journey.
And the nature of journey is ongoing.