Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The See-Saw of Balance, the Slide of Accomplishment, and the Swing of Contentment
Take a moment and recall the last time you were on a see-saw. Yes, a see-saw...
Now put yourself back on this see-saw. What does it feel like? Who are you see-sawing with? Are you enjoying it? I never liked the see-saw at playground. While working with someone else could be fun for awhile, the endless pattern of ups and down often left me frustrated and turned more into a competition instead of a collaboration - when you're up, the other person must be down, and so on...
Trying to find balance in our lives is often like sitting on a see-saw with the constant ups and down, back and forths. And we can never stay in the center of the see-saw because our sense of balance and wellness doesn't just rely on us - there's always the other person on the other end of the see-saw.
We are constantly in flux, living in a dynamic, ever-changing (or see-sawing) world that doesn't seem to be slowing down...or at least not anytime soon. But how many of still refuse to get off our see-saws and keep pushing off the ground in hopes of getting higher, only to be brought back down again?
I've recently learned that the very idea of "life balance" is a misnomer because as soon as we think we have balance, we get thrown off balance again as we see-saw away to find our equilibrium. But how do we stop pushing off the ground?
As a little girl when I went to the park with my family, I'd always run straight for the slide, climbing up to the top of the tower and shooting down the slick metal (that was often far too hot from the summer sun - but who really cares when you're 5?!). Like the see-saw, you have to get way of high, climbing up the play structure, in order to go down the slide and feel the quick rush that results.
Similarly, we often set our goals - occupational, family, health, etc. -and start climbing to reach them. Once we're there, we can look out over the top of our "slide" and feel the rush of accomplishment, only to realize that it's often short lived and we're off finding another slide tower to climb to keep our pattern of achievement going...one more slide, one more rush. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.
Now as an adult, I often find myself gravitating toward the swings at my neighborhood parks when I'm out on long walks. There's something meditative and simple about using your own strength to pump higher and glide over the small patch of earth below. You're not really going anywhere expect back and forth, but it has a much calmer effect on the swinger...and it's fun!
As I swing back and forth, I recall the points in my life where I feel larger than life and am soaring high on my "swing" and then am brought back down as life slows and I'm swinging lower and slower. Both times I'm still moving, just at different speeds and heights.
That's what I think learning contentment is. It's not about finding perfect balance. It's not even about success and accomplishment (although, I admit, I'm a fan of that, too!). It's about staying on the swing, pumping with all your strength, and enjoying whatever height you happen to be soaring at today...