Balance is everything. Especially in guaranteeing that your life is not messed up and out of sync. I think I’ve come to that realization lately because I see so many of my friends whose lives are out of sync. It’s not uncommon as adults to be in this mess, after all. Life has its demands and some of them are pretty darn insistent and important. The mortgage, the heating bill, getting the job done well- the list is huge.
And don’t forget personal demands: the family, the kids, the house (yes, I should be raking leaves right now instead of blogging), the relationship. All very demanding, as demands go, and rightly so. In fact, the problem that some of my friends have is that this subset of demands ends up being placed lower than the work subset of demands, triggering a reaction from the family and significant other that is, well, less than understanding.
And I am not immune to this, either. Teaching brings with it its own set of demands that aren’t any worse than the demands of other jobs; they’re just different. Grading papers, lesson plans, curriculum mapping, and (in my case) writing up observations and departmental policies are the job details that often threaten to bury me in paper. I have my girls to look after. I have a relationship that, despite being on a hiatus, is still a huge priority in my life and does demand attention. In the words of the great philosopher Professor Hinkle from Frosty the Snowman, we are “Busy, busy, busy…”
And I also have that other set of demands, the personal ones. I want to write an awful lot. I can add that to the list of things I want to do in a day along with exercise and maintain friendships via emails, texts, and social media. It’s a lot to manage.
So my great solution isn’t really anything new at all. It’s just the notion of balance and prioritization. So many of us go through life hiding behind the idea that one or two priorities takes precedence over the others. That work is uber-important and the other stuff can be put aside to languish because, damnit, I have to do this job. We even sometimes take on extra jobs, and brush aside the others in our life. He or she will understand that this is necessary; the kids will just have to know that I’m doing this for them. It’s just how it is.
It is scary to me how many relationships and marriages I personally have seen suffer and, in some cases, fail because of this. And it happens for a variety of reasons, too many to name (that’s another blog post). But it does happen.
And sometimes you have to concede that your life will be out of balance. There are moments that work will take over, or family will dominate your life. That’s natural. It’s when you keep digging a trench for so long that you make a rut the problem arises.
Because the longer you dig it the deeper the rut gets. It’s evident that if we live this way for too long we will end up losing something important. Focus too strongly on work, then personal relationships suffer. Focus too much on the personal, then work, and the subsequent income that comes from it, can suffer. Write too much and ignore the rest of your life, you become a successful, lonely novelist. It is all about balancing the forces, dividing your time up and devoting yourself to each of the elements of your life that you deem worthy. And really doing it.
The triquetra, that image at the head of this post, represents visually the balance between mind, body, and spirit. As a symbol its original pagan meaning is lost, and the Gaelic meaning has been co-opted by Christianity, and it also happens to be a pretty popular symbol in witchcraft, too. But I prefer to use it as a reminder to me that if I am to be happy in my life, then I better work at balancing it all. Mind, body, spirit.
I suppose it’s hard when you’ve dug the rut, so to speak, to see above its walls enough to recognize that you have a problem. Sometimes the people in our life, or the boss, lets us know we are screwing up. But then we have to listen, and it’s a whole other blog post about why that doesn’t happen.
I’m off to rake my leaves.