People try to tell me to live a balanced life, but here are a couple of thoughts on balance. Firstly, most people regard balance as being mixture – getting a little bit of all extremes and finding some comfortable middle ground. Sorry – doesn’t interest me. If that means watering down something that I might be passionate about, just so I can fit in the things I’m not so passionate about, I don’t like that answer!
One illustration I’ve been given before (I think it might have come from Chesterton or someone) is that balance is not finding a neutral, safe seat of mediocrity but a reaching to embrace all extremes and hanging there in the midst of all the extremes. I like that idea – the fact that you CAN have it all, and that in doing so, you can be a balanced person.
Another idea I just had was that balance isn’t really the goal. Picture a tightrope walker – they are walking along a tightrope, keeping their balance and trying to get to the other side. Note the purpose of this exercise – everyone is looking at him wondering how he is going to stay on the tightrope, but that’s not what he’s doing! He is going from A to B! The tightrope is just the means to get there, and it’s tricky to stay on it. The moment you stop and start thinking about staying on the tightrope, you start to lose it. The key is to focus on the destination, the purpose of staying on the tightrope to begin with. The goal is not to make sure you’re not too unevenly loaded, but that you keep moving towards the destination. And think about it: the more the tightrope walker is moving forward, the more the balance takes care of itself.
I want to live a balanced life, but that is not my goal. I don’t want to compartmentalise and set aside this portion of life for work, and then set aside another chunk of ‘me’ time in the name of balance. The purpose of my life is not to have a nice, comfortable existence that doesn’t stretch me too much. The purpose of my life deserves its own blog post, but can be summarised in this: it’s not about me! Focusing too much on the balance amounts to focusing everything on me here and now. Sorry – again, not interested. I need to be moving forward at a fast enough pace towards my destination for the issue of balance to just take care of itself.