Friday, October 2, 2009

Is balance even possible?

I think the story of me trying to set up this blog is rather telling about the state of my life these days. While I've been considering creating a blog for quite some time, it was after a discussion with my running friends last Thursday morning about their blogs that I would finally take the plunge.
This quarter, Thursdays are my work-at-home days, my recover-from-my-hellish-Wednesday days. But last Thursday I also was faced with several looming deadlines. In my usual attempt to try to manage my stress, I sketched out a timeline that positioned each task I had to accomplish in its own slot. And because I was getting started early (the deadlines weren't until this past Wednesday), I was able to spread out the work so that the deadlines wouldn't feel like guillotine threatening to crash down on me Tuesday evening. To sweeten the deal for myself, I set up this blog thinking that once I finished my day's assigned tasks, I could play with the blog and write my first post.
My morning went well, and I actually was able to cross off the first task on my list. In the meantime, I received an e-mail asking me to do updates to a website I manage, updates that I thought I'd done ages ago. "No worries!" I thought to myself, "I'm on top of my game, and I will take care of those after I eat lunch."
Still feeling good about productivity, I opened my computer after lunch only to discover that my screen, which had been threatening me for some time by turning into a mess of blue lines, decided I had not been paying enough attention to it. While I could see everything in the top half fine, the bottom half was a series of variations on the theme of blue line.
I did my best to maintain what I call my zen-state as I backed up my computer, scheduled an appointment, and then checked it into the apple hospital. When I got home two hours later, I simply re-arranged my work schedule to take care of the work that required no computer. This zen-like state continued for a few days. In fact, several friends that I saw at a meeting Saturday remarked on both the fact that I didn't have my computer and the fact that I was handling it so well.
By Monday, however, the state of zen got tossed out the window as I realized just how much work I had to finish and how many other obligations that were staking their claim on my schedule. The phone call I made to check on my computer didn't help matters as I was told that it would be another day or two.
My point in relaying this story is simply to show that it often feels like even when I think I do everything I can to keep a sense of balance in my life, wrenches get thrown in to turn that calm balance into shrieking chaos.
But then I also wonder how many people really have that calm sense of balance after which so many of us seem to quest? In some ways, I think it's like anything else in life. As we look at others from the outside, we might look at the big picture of their lives and think we see balance. Meanwhile, as they go through the day-to-day routines of their lives, they feel nothing but chaos. For example, I spent Friday evening with a friend who to me, seems to exude a sense of calm. When I arrived at her house after fighting traffic for two-and-a-half hours (no zen-state there), I joined her in her usual evening routine. We first went for sushi, then took a three-mile walk, and ended the evening with a 30-minute proprioceptive write complete with Bach music and candle light.  I went to sleep that evening planning how I could make my life look more like hers. But when I said something to her about the balance she seems to have, she looked at me with complete shock. "Really?" she asked.
So now I am left wondering, Is there even such a thing as true balance in life? If so, what on earth does that look like?