It’s a coolish winters day. The kind where the sky is a soft grey blanket and even the sun struggles to get going.
Hibernation seems to be the only acceptable thing to do and yet, like all things, the day must move forward.
Jobs to do, people to see, places to go and a brain that struggles to switch off.
There are moments when we all long for, yearn even, for a lull in our life. A break from the steady stream of jobs to do and the onslaught of information coming at us in a mobile world.
I dreamed the other day of a retreat into the wilderness; a cabin by myself, without WiFi, phone or television. Without a job to do, washing to clean, meals to make, kids to taxi about….oh I could go on!
The day was stiflingly standard in its course: wake, breaky, bundle kids out the door, work, meeting, pick up kids, dinner done, kids in bed, clean crap, stagger to shower and bed.
Lying in the darkness at the end of a day, with my free fleeting minutes of private thought, I even toyed with the idea of booking into a Buddhist sanctuary for some practice in soothing solitude.
Ah, to find some balance. To arrive at that place of contentment.
We convince ourselves that a break away from the busyness of the everyday, is just around the corner; in our next lot of holidays or once this job is finished, but like all things in life, we never really ‘arrive’.
The holiday ended up being frenetic, the kids got sick and there is still a burgeoning pile of things to do upon our return.
That job ended, but now it’s on to the next one before I fall behind on things.
And of course in always trying to keep up, the lists grow long and time sensing this, seems to sink into the ethos.
I’m a hopeless optimist and without fail, at the end of a working week I convince myself that come the weekend, I’ll be able to catch up – ‘do it all!’.
As if by some curious magic, time will slow on a Saturday and Sunday and I’ll be at my most willing and able to perform any number of planned feats.
I will have caught up come Monday. Arrived!
But of course, it’s just a disaster on weekly repeat which only adds to that sense of failure in striking the illusive ‘balance’.
Planning fallacy I’ve discovered recently, is actually a semi-technical term given to this very real condition! It’s the tendency to underestimate the time needed to do things.
I reckon it’s indicative of how my brain works in also overestimating what actually needs to get done.
Is Balance Best?
So do we ever really get to that place of balance? A place of calm and contentment, where work and our private lives find some happy middle ground?
Do we ever really ‘arrive’?
There seems to exist (at least in my mind) a stubborn idea that life should never really be ‘go, go, go’ all the time.
And yet, THAT IS LIFE.
That is exactly its function: to be, to exists, to remain constant. The alternative is lifelessness. And, well….. that’s not going to work out!
So rather than wishing for it to all just slow down at times, it becomes this battle for balance – one
I fear we should never have attempted to engage in from the start.
It’s relatively unrealistic to imagine that ‘balance’ is something we could even hope to achieve, considering the nature of our lives today.
And yet we talk about ‘finding balance’ in our life like it’s the natural order of things. The right or best way to be.
Like our mental state, if we’re not of sound mind all the time, some thing’s wrong.
But of course, I’m yet to find anybody who’s all ‘there’, all the time. Each of us are just a little weird, up and down, unique entities in our own right.
Just so, our lives area a constant hum of activities that involve all aspects of us: our family life, our work, our relationships, our social interactions, all merging and melting into one.
The scales naturally are constantly shifting as we navigate our way through the myriad of roles we take on and stability remains illusive.
Just being OK with this, might lighten our load.
Perhaps like the seasons, we too should see this constant battle for balance, as our natural state.
The norm as it were.
Maybe then we could give up the futile fight for balance and our ambitions to ‘arrive’ in life and see the persistent tussle as the truest way to live.