Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Balance is overrated. Balance achieved is motion frozen in time and space, all energy internalized to remain upright against gravity. Some speakers up on stage I’ve heard like to refer to achieving balance in your life as creating “homeostasis.” Which is supposed to be “healthy.” It’s a misuse of a cool word. Homeostasis is merely the biological process in which organisms regulates and maintains their physiological and chemical systems in a stable manner.
Homeostasis as a process can even be disturbed to exist and continue in a state of imbalance. It’s definitely not the same as balancing a stack of plates upon your head while standing atop a ball. It’s not turning the messy breakdowns and re-creations of daily living into a brightly colored pie chart called “Designing a Balanced Life.” Do you really want your “life balance” to feel as if you’re splitting down the middle like an amoeba about to reproduce?
Up in Canada once for a series of trainings I witnessed Bob Proctor in action. He’s a master trainer in the field of personal and professional growth and development and a highly successful entrepreneur. Well-dressed and about 70 years old, he popped out behind the curtains and raced across the stage leaping and shouting as if he was a superbly athletic actor in his 20s.
“Balance!” roared Bob. “Balance is waaay overrated! It’s boring! Boring! You cannot move forward standing still trying to stay balanced. I’m living my life OUT of balance!”
He stopped and spun around, stood perfectly still as a warrior poised to pounce, then jumped as high as he could with one arm pointing straight up into the air. And laughed, laughed loud.
“And I’m not slowing down either! People say ‘Slow down, slow down! Take it easy.’ Not me! I live life out of balance. Full steam ahead! I’m a rocket to the moon, going full-tilt boogie!”
“Yes!” Bob Proctor declared as he stopped, squatted, then jumped again with both arms up in victory shouting “I’m a rocket! Charging into Outer Space! Going full-tilt boogie doing what I love! And so can you!”
Those images stuck in my memory for a long time. They’re still there, too. They continue to inspire me years later.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to slow down and relax, and I love full-tilt boogie. But I don’t want to be an exploding rocket, nor care to lounge around the pool for long. No tilting at windmills with Don Quixote for me. Bob flung back the curtains hiding the Ozzian Wizard of Balance and exposed champions of balance as misguided. The Emperor of Balance was left naked standing still upon cobblestone streets before his subjects as they began to move in revolt. Freedom seeks to expand! Freedom demands forward motion. No more expending my life energy seeking balance for me!
And I’ve learned to just stop. To stop and sit still, to arrive and be mindful. Presence. And after I slow down, stop, wake up into mindfulness, be present to what is as what is, then my choices and direction of forward motion becomes crystal clear. Without seeking I become balance itself, and in one way or another all or part of me is always in motion. I move it forward.
I don’t wanna be in balance going nowhere and especially going nowhere fast. I wanna go somewhere, and usually faster than slow.
When people start yabbering about balance, my craw breaks open. That’s not a pretty sight, especially if you know what a craw is. What I appreciate much better for health and productivity is a way of being best described as “ebb and flow” or “pace and space” to let things integrate.
My favorite image is a person riding a bicycle. It can be anyone riding any kind of bike in any condition. Riding a bicycle exemplifies balance in motion, specifically forward motion in balance or balance in forward motion.
You don’t learn to ride a bike by balancing it still while stopped. That takes more skill than the average cyclist. You learn to balance the bike by pedaling it forward. Quickly.
Walking has been described as a controlled fall with every step. Walking and running are other examples to move forward in motion once balance is achieved.
I’ve come to appreciate the balance, too, of meditating upon a cushion or in a chair. The most effective positions require balance to sit a certain way with my hips, back, legs, shoulders, belly, neck, and head all in relaxed alignment. It allows for mindfulness and presence to expand and move and for my sense of self to connect to my heart. So I get the best of both. Pace and space. Ebb and flow. Even meditation is a dynamic experience, not static.
The meditation, however, comes to an end, as life continues to unfold. Life moves forward even as individuals die. Life keeps going. Even if out of balance.
If we think about it, we really don’t want subatomic particles to stop moving, for atoms and molecules to come to a complete stop, for planets to stop rotating on their axes and to stop revolving around their suns, for galaxies to stop spinning, for our Universe to stop expanding, for electromagnetic forces to stop and vanish, for the toruses of everything to simple collapse and wink out. We want movement. Absolute stillness is beyond mere biological death. It would be complete obliteration of all existence.
Let’s get back on our bicycles, real or metaphorical, and move forward in balance. You don’t have to be Bob Proctor commanding the room with his particular expression of dynamic presence. Just don’t be static. You be you. Be present. Express yourself. Be balance in forward motion. Now.
William Dudley Bass
30 November 2011
Copyright © 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.