I’ve been blogging consistently now for nearly a year and a half under the category of the “Art of Balance,” but I haven’t yet taken the time to define art of balance in the sense of how I’m writing about it. So here it goes …
Balance is many things to many people. I could exhort about eating right, exercise, family time, etc., but I would just be telling you about me, not necessarily helping anyone discover what balance looks like for them. Yes, all would agree to the basics of eating right, getting enough rest, and so on, but truly, balance is not a science, it’s an art.
Saying that balance is art implies that it’s imperfect, that it’s non-linear, and non-static—that while it looks like one thing for one person and another for someone else, it may also look like one thing for me on Tuesday and yet another on Thursday. It’s a moving dimension.
I belong to a LinkedIn group focusing on “Work/Life Balance” and it’s largely about techniques and suggestions. I posted one time to the group, and the moderator deleted it because someone else had posted a similar query. Wow!
It feels to me that while there is an ever-increasing number of busy professionals, overworked executives, single parents, soccer moms, working college students, and aspiring cookbook authors struggling to catch their breath in life, that we’re focusing our attention in the wrong direction.
So I’m not going to give you an eight-point list to finding balance, or seven tips for achieving work/life balance, etc. I respect you, my reader. You are unique. You are an individual. And, I believe that the most powerful thing I can do to offer anything of value on the topic of balance is to open doors of understanding, and then allow you to choose which door, and then to walk through that door on your own. I could tell you what I think balance is, but it would be so much better if you were to discover what it means for you.
Having said that, there are some important teachings from the indigenous realm related to balance that are worth considering. Principally, indigenous people the world over maintain a strong connection to Earth. The elders say that nature is a storehouse of information far greater than any man-made library or databank. Spending time in nature, they tell us, is one of the most powerful things we can do to stay in balance. Not so much visiting the city park with 250 other picnickers, but really getting out there—leaving the cooler full of Bud Lights, the iPod, the Smart Phone, and the motorized devices at home. Being willing to take a hike in the rain. Being willing to be cold, or hot, or hungry, or tired while in nature. We can discover a whole new dimension to nature this way.
For eons of time our ancestors spent time with fire. Not pyrotechnics, but camp fire style, sitting in meditation with what indigenous people see as a living deity—the spirit of fire. It’s one of the most calming things we can do.
One of my most favorite books, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, is the story of a man who discovers wisdom and enlightenment by spending twenty years as a ferryman on a river. He learns over much time that by meditating with the river he can talk with the river, and that the river can offer him great wisdom and guidance.
By experiencing nature on nature’s terms and slowing down to meld with the elements of fire and water we can bring ourselves to the pace of nature, and in so doing, discover much deeper levels of balance.
Balance is an art form because it’s not a science. Like the meandering river or the crackling fire, it’s a moving breath, a fluctuating element, and a state of being. We wont get there by reading more articles giving us “six tips to balance,” and the like. But we can begin to learn the craft, the art of balance, through time spent in nature.