“To hell, to hell with balance! I want to live only for ecstasy.
Small doses, moderate loves, all half-shades, leave me cold. I like extravagance, heat!
I’m neurotic, fiery, dangerous – lava, inflammable, unrestrained.”
— Anaïs Nin
Growing up, I loved the story of Cinderella. It set the stage for a long-lasting love affair with fairytales, whether the kind from books or those on the big movie screen like Pretty Woman.
I was someone who, like many others – especially women, became totally turned on by “the promise” of the happy ending. Addicted to it in fact, the day-to-day became bothersome details to contend with. Never-mind whatever reality stared me in the face, I wanted the picture-perfect snapshot. This kind of personal spazzing for the promise of the happy ending transferred seamlessly from the world of fantasy to the world of wellness – both billion-dollar industries whose very success is predicated on stirring our deepest fears and longings.
So it is with “balance”, perhaps the most lucrative adult fairy-tale ever sold.
We are bombarded at every turn with the message that if we can somehow perfectly dedicate equal amounts of time to work, family, relationships, spiritual practice, downtime, etc., we’ll somehow be much happier. This super pimped idea of balance is oppressive. To also believe that we can or should maintain a certain emotional equilibrium every day is not only oppressive as well, it’s stupid and driving many of us emotionally mad. The unspoken message from leading Fortune 500 business coaches all the way to new-age spiritualists is that if you don’t have this elusive “balance” in your life, something is wrong with you. Sure, and the psychic hotline is the leading authority on your future too.
Balance, in the traditional sense does not exist and the pursuit of it causes the very thing it promises to deliver us from: unnecessary stress. However, balance in the progressive sense is much more akin to Einstein’s theory who said, “Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” This would seem to much more accurately reflect our daily lives – where rushed morning meditations, missed recitals, late-night meetings, skipped over love-making, absent family time and forgotten creative projects are pre-dominant characteristics. Welcome to the 21st-century lifestyle – certainly one of movement and everyday balancing acts. Although chaotic, it is no less meaningful than the concept of “balance” we are sold. In fact, one could argue that in the juggling we find something much more useful.
What if we exchanged the unfounded notion of “balance” with the concept of congruency? Perhaps we’d feel less inadequate for failing to be Super-humans. Congruency is not about perfection or stillness. It has nothing to do with evenness, emotional or otherwise. Congruency is about alignment. To live with it is to live in a way where our investments of time and energy line up with what we deem most important; understanding that will likely change from year-to-year, day-to-day. We must remember that we are not separate from the universe, which is perpetually in motion and always changing. We too are evolving beings, always in motion. To seek congruency means to allow that motion – the authentic rhythms of our lives and our very natures – to dictate the direction of our energy on any given day, without apology.
Instead of using as a barometer for happiness whether you achieved an equal investment of time in all the things that were important to you last week, ask yourself if you invested your time in things that mattered at all to you? Seriously, how many of us demonstrate the courage to pursue what genuinely matters to us individually and live outside the pre-fabricated lifestyles and belief systems prescribed to us by society? I wonder if you spent your time – even yesterday on any activity or with anyone for which or whom you felt great passion? Was your investment of time invigorating, transformative? Did it move you outside your comfort zone, awake you to possibilities not dreamt of before? Were you madly all over the place, in a vibration of love, on purpose, moving with joy? Were you centered in yourself or chasing the Times Square Billboard-version of “balance” marketed to you?
In the end, it doesn’t matter as much if you get your days stacked evenly and organized according to some fairytale version of balance. What matters is if you are giving your energy wholly and with fervor to the people, places and experiences that make your life worth living today – provides value today, so that the promise of the “happy ending” that is always locked in some shallow version of tomorrow holds absolutely no power over your life.
Fairytales are powerful drugs. Balance is one of them. Sober up. Get on with living.