When I picture the word, balance, I see two things: a balance beam and a see saw.
I see the balance beam as the obvious path to a balanced life, right? Get up on the straight and narrow beam and put one foot in front of the other until you get to the end. It appeals to the part of me that likes plans, organization and to-do-list making. I've tried for years to master the balance beam but sometimes, I can only manage a few small steps before I fall off. Even if I do stay on top of it for a while, somehow life throws me a curve and off I go.
Sometimes that curve is my own making like when I line up too many things and the beam gets so overcrowded, I can't move. Or other times, I move along through my lovely, organized routine only to slip and fall, literally. When I broke my wrist, twisted my ankle and pulled my quads, hamstrings and calf muscles, I quite literally could not balance myself at all. I was forced off the beam into a situation of full stop.
See the see saw go up and down.
If I'm really honest with myself, I have to admit that my life is really a see saw. Days, months and years go up and down. I work, finish projects, do shows, sell work, then it slows down. I'm walking and weight lifting and then, like a few weeks ago, I get an injury. There I am in the downward part of the ride.
I'm bummed. I see failure. I see loss. What I don't always see is the swing is a necessary part of balance. Picture a see saw permanently stuck in the middle. Both parties or ends are equal distance from the ground. That sounds like perfect balance, right? The perfect goal? Or perfectly boring, static, a life without momentum.
Life is all about movement.
Days follow into months, years, decades. Babies grow into toddlers, tweens, teens and adults. Trees and flowers bud, leaf, bloom and lose it all only to start again. I hate to admit it but even pain brings an acute awareness of what I didn't see. I saw my imperfections, my drawbacks, my failures then, but what I see now is my ability, my strength and my successes. Even if success today is climbing the stairs or making it around the block and back.
As a grown up, life looks like one big balancing act which I've tried to organize, prioritize and control for years. Maybe I need to get off the straight and narrow beam. Instead of looking back at what I saw, look right in front of me now and see. The movement down is as important to balance as going up.
As a child, I loved the see saw. I relished the ride down just as much as ride up. I squealed with delight as I rose and when I came down, I pushed off the ground with excitement every time.
Creating balance is, maybe, as easy as that: Delighting in the ups and pushing off from the ground with just as much excitement.