First off, I’m probably not the right person to ask when it comes to balancing things in your life; and it’s not because I don’t know how. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life keeping things in balance, or at least an uncanny attempt at it.
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The days pass on. The work piles up. The obligations build. Everyone wants attention; friends, family, potential significant others, and friends… again. I had a Moleskine I used as a scheduler. It resides under a mass of dirt, old TV guides, automobile debris, maybe some broken lightbulbs, somewhere in a junk yard in California.
It’s safe to say I don’t use a scheduler anymore. Though when I do need to… I schedule. I just don’t allude to using an official item, much like the Franklincovey, leather-bound, loose-leaf, bond paper printed brown with a 1″ capacity, round-ring mechanism. The choice for professionals.
The official/professional method did more to stroke my ego than become a productive soul. By all means, if you’re looking to make a hefty deposit into corporate douchebaggery, it may just be the thing for you; don’t forget the custom-embossed business card with gold-trim.
These days, a blank sheet of paper and a black Papermate pen suits my needs just fine when I need to plot out a few hours of my day. Typing it into my phone would work too, but I find that takes too long.
Balancing what goes on around you takes a lot of effort. And it definitely goes against the grain to the “living without a map” mentality I’m currently cultivating.
So what does it mean to balance?
In my experience, it’s to keep everything in your life that’s important and necessary under control and developing equally across the board. To integrate interests and place on autopilot. To keep thoughts clear and avoid a state of overwhelm.
In my experience… this is difficult as fuck.
And the difficulty multiplies exponentially when you’re an intrigued individual. When you’re interested in many things. When you express yourself in multiple mediums. When you’re a dreamer. A romantic. A curious being.
Balancing requires a few things: attention, time, and energy. Knowing what you’re balancing, putting time into it, and hopefully have the energy to do the first two. Sounds easy enough. But like all things that sound easy… you know saying. The main culprit: being human.
The human factor, still, like all goody-goody do-gooders foiling the villian’s scheme in every Warner Bros, cartoon from the 80’s, makes the outcome of balancing life a hard endeavor. My human nature doesn’t always want to work on the same things over and over again. At times I may get caught up in a new TV show. Maybe I had good night that I don’t want to remember and my energy the next day is next to non-existent. Although you could always force yourself to balance through something people call: discipline. But that doesn’t last too long and anything forced usually leads to resentment.
Things in life don’t happen in equal amounts so I don’t try to live in equal amounts. There’s no recipe book for how I achieve things. No blue print to my productivity (actually, there is, but it’s a special kind of blueprint, one that points in directions and not detailed and specific mechanisms. I refer to it as alchemy.) When things happen, they tend to happen in bursts. They follow in waves of momentum and forward motion. When things stop, they stop dead in their tracks or crawl for periods of time. It’s bingeing in work, social, health, love, life.
But there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what makes life exciting. Almost cinematic. In a screenplay the story moves from high point to low point to high point to low point. This is the emotional roller coaster most writers intentionally put into their plots. The Cyclone Coaster at Coney Island. Real life looks more like the roller coasters where “you must be this tall” to ride at the State Fair.
Some things may get neglected with an unbalanced life. These are the underdeveloped parts of your life. The parts that SEEMED like a good idea but just weren’t worthy enough to be integrated into your life. Maybe there are some parts that were actually important that became underdeveloped like being healthy. Losing weight. Taking care of yourself. These things take a back seat especially if you’re an achiever type, but it’ll always seem like a good idea.
Let these become the challenges in your life. So what if you don’t have the body of your teenage self anymore, or the score on your IQ went down a few points, maybe you used to be an amazing dancer but can’t perform the moves as eloquently anymore. Allow the challenge to drive you to bring those back up. Have trust in yourself to realize when some things are lacking. Have trust in yourself that if you’ve been there before you can do it again.
Trust that you know what DOES needs balancing and what can take a backseat. It’s not detrimental to keep things in harmony at all times because that would be fucking impossible. There’s a light in the chaos. There’s profundity in the chaos. There’s inspiration in the chaos. It’s there. You just have to know what to look for. Focus becomes an instrumental skill. You choose where that focus goes and you choose what to close the eyes to, selective ignorance.
The important thing to remember is: you can handle it.
Keeping things in balance all the time is boring. We could all use a good wakeup call now and again.
Image: Chinatown Alley // Raymond Larose