I was unprepared
Balancing the scales
I did the best I could but still I have failed.
~Barlow and Bear
Have you ever heard of the pumpkin toadlet? It is a very, very small frog from Brazil (all toads are frogs; the two terms are taxonomically meaningless). These cuties, which could easily fit on your thumbnail, have the smallest vestibular system of any vertebrate on record. Because the bones in their ears are so small, the fluid doesn’t move through the tubes properly. The result is a frog that has no understanding of where its body is in space. This lack of spatial orientation makes hopping a challenge. The jump goes pretty well, but the landing? Not so much. They hurtle their little bodies into space, and then roll or flip, crash-landing on their backs. They literally have no sense of balance.
Watch their adorable “jumps” here (you’re welcome).
Balance. We all want it. But just like those adorable little frogs, we ain’t ever gonna get it. In my book Sensible Wellness for Women, I wrote that balance is a moving target. Now I think that balance is, well, a myth.
It’s a generational illusion. Growing up, we were made to believe that if we could only adjust the knobs on the various segments of our lives to get the levels perfect, we could have it all. And by all, I mean sustainable peace, fulfillment, and happiness in our family life, careers, relationships, finances, hobbies, and spiritual endeavors.
But not only can we not have it all, we can’t even have most of it all of the time. With every knob we turn, instead of getting more balanced, we find ourselves more stressed and more out of balance. If I take on more clients to shore up my finances, it means giving short shrift to my ever-growing tbr (to be read) pile. If I focus on spending time with my family and friends, the result is less time and energy toward marketing my business. When my work day is done, I can read on the porch, cook a nutritious meal for my family, work on Instagram content, take a nap, take a walk, or listen to a podcast. But I can’t do them all. There is no perfect level because our reserves of time, money, and energy are limited, despite what those motivational speakers on Instagram say (I’m looking at you Tim Ferris, with your eye-rolling 4-Hour Workweek where you blithely advise being born rich and having assistants do all the heavy lifting).
The word balance comes from the Latin bilanx, meaning having two scale pans. Perhaps we could actually balance our life scales for a moment if everything would just stop and stand still. But stillness is just another illusion. The ground we assume so steady under our feet is, on a small scale, swirling atoms and, from a larger perspective, just another rock whizzing through the cosmos in its orbit dance. Movement is our only promise, and the scales swing and sway.
The true work of living isn’t ever done…until it is. But while this side of the dirt, I’m hurtling through space. Better I hurl myself into living like that cute little toadlet than risk becoming immobile from the fear of falling.