the fallacy of balance
“You can have everything you want in life, just not all at once.”
I turned 29 last week and amid all the fond birthday wishes, I found my feelings catapulting from one extreme to the other. One minute I wanted to milk the shit out of the last year of my 20s and carpe the effing diem. Yet, minutes later, I found exhaustion rearing its delirious head, forcing me to reconcile with the limits of my energy. Ah, to be young, bold, and unabashedly in bed before midnight.
This swinging pendulum of energy isn’t particularly unique; most anyone of youthful spirit (or anyone sensitive to the current political climate, for that matter) can relate to this roller coaster ride of emotions. If my circle is any indication of general sentiment, many of us are just plain exhausted.
So, how does one find balance between passion AND zen? When, in this modern world, is there time for creation, relation, AND self-preservation? Is it possible to carve out space for the I, the Us, AND the WE?
I’ve been meditating on the equilibrium posited above. I don’t totally agree with the premise that you can only have two of the three among friends, love, & work. All three can co-exist, just not at the same levels of intensity. Depending on the season of life, one might take precedence over the other, but it’s certainly possible to make time for all three. It just takes intentionality. True balance is a rarity though.
The bigger question I grapple with is not how to balance all these elements, but where the missing variable of SELF factors in (if at all). They’re the moments when we can read a book, pray, journal, exercise, or pause long enough to listen to the own banter in our head before jumping into some act of doing. This self-work has no immediate outcome, deliverable or KPI. It is slow, heavy, and unheroic. A bit of a modern conundrum. But the capacity to look inward, quiet the outer din, and feel deeply, I believe, will become increasingly important in a world perpetually bombarded by distractions.
Learning how to channel my energy – internally and externally – so I am more aligned with my values is my goal for the year. While our best selves should work well with others, the road to achieving any dream is a more solitary one requiring dogged, somewhat isolating self-management / awareness. No one can tell me where to focus my attention or energy but myself. I want to be more consistently available to the things that matter, instead of toggling between fits of passion & lukewarm apathy. Doing this requires intentionality – to think slowly, work deeply, and rest abundantly – sans social distractions.
Oh, lighten up Lynne! Be more free while you’re still young, they say. I’ve had plenty of free moments and don’t want to discount them. My nomadic tendency has become a hallmark trait of my 20s. And I’m grateful that I’ve been able to embrace this aspect of my spirit without being tied down. But being too free can also be a limitation. I know now that my introverted self can give so much more when my energy isn’t scattered in multiple social settings. Discipline via constraint and clear boundaries creates true freedom.
So, yes Mr. Koch, I do want a social life with friends. I’m only human. But it’s the somewhat lonely self-work that will allow me to be a better human. I can’t think of a better way of saying goodbye to my thirsty 20s than with that form of medicine.