I gave up a long time ago being interested in finding balance in my life. Not because I had found it, but because I did not believe that I could find it. And it was easier on my ego to convince myself that I never wanted it in the first place, than to search for it and fail to find it.
So I worked. And continued to work. And worked some more, just for good measure. In case there was any tiny bit of balance lurking in the shadows of my busy life, I continued to work to make sure it did not have any room to grow.
The rare times that I was not working, it was so that I could recover and go back to working. In a really sad way, rest and relaxation had a productive purpose. It was so that I could get back to working. Like stretching before a race (I did not have any interest to literally run in circles) or hitting the driving range before an 18-hole course (I most definitely did not have the time to golf), rest was preparation for work.
When I would be asked about balance, my response was something along the lines of “forget living a balanced life, it is unimportant and uninteresting. I am more focused on living an optimal life”.
A balanced life sounded daunting to me. An optimal life sounded inspiring.
I also learned that a balanced life was nowhere within my reach, as it asked of me ‘to be’ and not always ‘to do’. I have only been trained ‘to do’. The rewards and recognition systems around me have told me my entire life that ‘I am because I do’, not that ‘I am because I am’.
An optimal life though was within my reach, as it asked of me ‘to do’. Its currency is to trade in doing. I had, and still have, an extra large capacity to do, as I have been trained my entire life for this. School. Extra curricular activities. Business. Even mindfulness practices at times.
I am proud to report that an optimal life is possible, and I feel that I have experienced it at several moments along my journey.
I am also humbled to report that having it all does not feel the way that I would have expected it to.
Really, it does not. Many of the ideas and promises that I chose to believe for so many years turned out to not be true for me.
This truth does not speak in words or concepts, despite me using them to try to explain it to you. It speaks only through experience.
The only way that I can connect to this truth is by experiencing it firsthand for myself. If it was only at an intellectual level, like your experience reading my reflection right now, it would not be sufficient.
This truth continues to speak to me, again and again, like a radio without an off switch. It continues to tell me that a balanced or better life is not conditional on getting somewhere, finding someone or having something.
I was speaking with a large group of students recently on the topic of balance. I started by asking everyone to share with me what balances means to them. What I mostly received were academic responses of things being equal, like two sides of a scale with equal weights.
One response I received though was different. “Just the right amount”. This spoke to me, as it is how I have related to balance in recent years.
Just the right amount. It involves the act of asking what does this moment, situation, activity or person need of me? And then giving it just the right amount, for it and for me. Not more, not less. Just the right amount.
It requires me to be present with this moment, not stuck in a previous one or anticipating a future one. To be strictly with this moment. To be aware of what is needed. To be connected and grounded to the reality of this moment.
It is in my nature to be in balance. That is what I have now learned. The moment that I strive for balance, I am out of balance.
To be in balance is truly an unconscious experience. I cannot do anything to find it.
My search for balance is over. I have found it.