Eventually, we've done enough work. Eventually, self-reflection mutates from worthwhile growth activity to guilt-induced habit, mourning everything we're not--and, perversely, everything we are.
Part of it, I think, is our fix-it, self-help society, and part of it stems from really, truly wanting to be the best version of ourselves possible.
But, you know, we've done the work. And despite the work, we'll slip, we'll do rotten things, and we'll regret them. We'll apologize and we'll keep trying. But those moments aren't the norm. Apologizing isn't the norm, nor is it necessary.
We're good people. We're hard workers, but we don't need to keep demonstrating that at every turn. We've done enough. Take us as we are--lovely and flawed and very much deserving of a rest.
Ever notice that, on the days you don't get enough sleep, you get off-balance easily? I get super clumsy--dropping things, making way more noise than I ever mean to, and my hip bones meet more countertop corners and doorknobs than is statistically possible. I get grumpy, sensitive, with about as much confidence as a slug in a salt mine.
That stuff? That's your clue, your test. Over-thinking, over-taxing in those moments will almost guarantee that you never find balance, good sleep or no.
I've started this habit and, I don't know, maybe it's akin to knocking on wood, but if I can't hold a balanced posture for more than thirty seconds (and breathe at the same time), then that's not the time for difficult decisions, conversations, or delicate work.
No, that's the time for hands-in-the-dirt, vacuuming-dusting-scrubbing, or tinkering-under-the-hood kind of work. Big work, hard work, non-thinking work.
I wanted to write about balance because of the photo that called to me this morning. Usually that's how I work--image first, then whatever tumbles out of my brain.
I don't mean to be political, although, now that I see the Satya and, given the week that it is, I can see how it can apply. But that's as far as I'll go, overtly anyway. I'm not political or, at least, not (usually) publicly so.
That said, in *general,* I think, sometimes being thrown off balance can be a good thing. While it's happening? Oh, hells no. It sucks big time. But it sends us in a different and, so often, much-needed direction. I think it's easy to become complacent--both in our small lives and in the greater one around us. And while I think there's comfort in that, there's also danger.
Of course, it's double-edged. Some seek change, imbalance, at a constant pace, sacrificing any kind of stillness. That, too, is dangerous. Or, if not dangerous, foolhardy and risky, rife with the possibility of accidents, both to s...
I'm not sure why we routinely think getting what we want will ever be easy. If it were, I don't think we'd have that annoying spinster sing-song voice in our heads chanting "be careful what you wish for." (Side note: 'spinster' is probably a politically incorrect word these days, but I read a lot of Agatha Christie and, unrelatedly, I fancy myself a spinster-in-training, so I think it's okay).
Anyway. We get so desperate, looking at the limitations of the situation we were just in that we lift the coming change into this utopian ideal, when really, it takes a tear-down to rebuild. Every time. Always. Any shift--emotional, physical, cosmic, geographical--necessitates a pulling up of roots, and roots are messy. They're nestled and warm down there in whatever earth they've found.
Even if it's woefully deficient.
Roots need time to reestablish themselves, and they can't do that in clean, hard-packed, neatly swept earth. No way--you have to dig down, baby, dig up that rich soil and...
We all (more often than we'd like to admit, I'm sure) resort to the unhealthy to balance an upsetting event/day/month/year. And while we may judge that the occasional bout of shopping therapy is nowhere near as damaging as binge drinking/eating/drugging/etc., we'd be mistaken. Or, at least, pretty judgy and playing with the borders of hubris.
See, we don't really know why a person drinks, or eats, or shops. We don't know what demons that person is fighting. We don't know that drinking (or whatever) isn't the lesser of several evils, several more damaging options. Is it healthy? Well, no. But we aren't either, not all the time. While we sit in the judgement seat, sure, we probably feel pretty balanced. But if we're prone to judgement? If we love to look at others and think, "well, at least my coping mechanism only affects me/my bank account/my weight/etc.," well, I hate to say it, but that's probably not balance.
Judgement is its own addiction, and it's just as caustic to you...
I've had this epiphany: I am too strong for my own good. Or, rather, I rely too much on the strength I have and, because strength is safe, I develop and over-develop it. And then, when life gets hard or scratchy or blisteringly uncomfortable, I keep going--but only by arming myself and fighting my way through. And then I wonder why I wake in the night quaking with anxiety, then run exhausted through my days.
So, the other day (actually, while I was teaching yoga, which is how and when most of these channeled-type thoughts come to me) I realized the answer is just in falling apart when you need to fall apart--not needlessly and not constantly, mind you. In other words, not making it a habit and certainly not breaking down in front of everyone you know, hoping for some kind of answer or platitude. No. The answer is in falling apart, being vulnerable and transparent, in front of **yourself.**
Because that's the only audience you're really trying to impress here...
Balance isn't balance if you have to hold your breath (or anything else) in order to stay put. Ask any yoga student--it's better to find that second, that millisecond of poise in which, by breathing, you feel as though you're floating, than to grind yourself into submission via tension.
When we hold our breath to remain in equilibrium, we aren't in flow. Instead, we're the equivalent of shoving a stick into unyielding ground, just hoping it will hold our tent fast through the storm. Better to hike on, to find ground that yields to the stake, and that will hold us through the night, rather than the other way around.
You'll find balance if you breathe, if you're aware, and if you're trusting of your two feet (or one foot, two hands, whatever your pivot point). Patience itself is a study in the arc (and art) of balance.
Man, we carry a lot of junk around. I know that's a running theme over here, but I was reminded of it again last night. I dreamt of failing exams, unpaid debts, and pissing off old college boyfriends. I dreamt of being chased by a knife-wielding child (okay, that was creepy...), and woke sweating and wondering where I had gone so wrong.
So, when these garden-variety anxieties creep into our sleeping brains, we know we're carrying around more than we can handle during waking hours. This shouldn't surprise me, but it does all the same. As in, 'aren't we done with this YET??' Man, I'm sick of layers.
I really just want to run around naked here for a while, you know? Is that so much to ask?
And then I think, of course we're not done with this yet. Of course this stuff is coming up while you sleep--this is your detox, baby. This is your passive unburdening. Sweat it out. Let it come in the night so you don't have to hide in bathrooms during the day (I'm really good at hiding in bathr...
Anyone can balance anything--a body, a checkbook, a schedule, a relationship.
But we don't *really* want to put in the time, the effort, the schematics, and the nitty-gritty discomfort it takes to find or (goddess forbid, topple) over that tipping point.
We might hurt ourselves, after all...
Well, let me tell you this: we're hurting ourselves already, trying to cram ourselves into days, lives, hours, jobs, relationships that don't fit. It may not be car-crash painful, but it's repetitive-action-forty-years-at-your-desk-or-on-your-feet kind of painful. It's wearing you down and you're too numb to feel it.
Or maybe you're not. Maybe you're just really, really good at ignoring pain, and eventually it becomes rote. Until (!!) someone or something pushes you (gently or no) OUT of balance. Suddenly you're forced into a new perspective and, holy cats, are you lucky if you get one of those opportunities. See it for what it is--an invitation, a hand up, a new skill, a Superman cape...