During a recent email exchange with a good friend I declared I believed all of life is a balancing act and then suggested this might be based on my ‘Type 6’ personality in the wisdom of the Enneagram and being a Libra in terms of astrology which has a balance as its symbol. While I am an ardent follower of the wisdom surrounding the Enneagram I never had much faith in astrology; it has far too many glaring inconsistencies. This conversation started me thinking much more about the concept of balance in one’s existence. At some point I realized I had the foundation for another blog piece.
I cannot deny I feel and function best when my life is in balance but just what does this concept involve? It can be very difficult to define yet most of us would recognize this state of being and almost certainly understand what it feels like to be ‘out of balance’. Many eastern philosophies speak of being ‘centered’; I believe this is synonymous with being ‘in balance’. Both imply a state of being in which our existence ‘feels’ equalized within all the surrounding forces both external and internal. In another sense our internal energies are in balance with all external energies providing a ‘sum zero’ existence. Imagine a bubble floating in the air, moving neither up nor down, right or left. Its internal pressure is equally balanced against the external pressure allowing it to maintain its iridescent sphere of film. I conjure this image when meditating or performing other efforts to regain my center. Without question I feel better when my life is balanced even though such states of being are very difficult to attain let alone maintain.
Of late I’ve begun to wonder if the whole ‘in balance’ thing is just a philosophical construct. While setting one’s sights on such a goal may not be a bad thing, to cling to such a drive on this plane is probably a snipe hunt. The more I dwell on this concept the more I believe it is probably best to keep all things in ‘moderation’ – at least where ever possible – and just go with the flow. Part of me believes this is my attempt to resign myself to the fact I will most likely never achieve a real state of ‘balance’, at least for any period of time, and hence have lowered the bar. But I do believe if I could moderate all my beliefs, my passions, my emotions and similar I would probably be a much more balanced person. And I honestly do embrace the concept of just ‘going with the flow’; as I’ve written in previous postings some of the best things that have occurred in my existence have come from truly letting go and just allowing the Universe to flow through and direct me. However, as with the concept of balance, I find it very difficult to honestly let go. This is reflected in my ‘Type 6’ personality as one of the major attributes is being ‘security oriented’. One of the toughest things for a Type 6 person to really embrace is the concept that almost all their ‘securities’ are illusion. I understand and do embrace the idea of really letting go but I have a very difficult time doing so because I remain so afraid that letting go will compromise my security.
For me, letting go is hand in hand with the concept of ‘pushing one’s own comfort zone’ which is another way of saying reaching for goals well outside of one’s daily existence. Like so many people, I am not really comfortable doing this yet I have a long history which proves to me that great things happen when I am willing to do so. One example is my volunteering at KTNA doing live radio; as a young child I struggled intensely with stuttering for which I went to therapy but had little success. Because of this I was terrified of speaking live in front of people. Over the decades I slowly learned to manage the issue but I always knew it remained within me. I was given the opportunity to become a ‘trainer’ for field sites when the company I worked for was rolling out new operating systems and applications; I spent many sleepless nights wondering if I should accept. Finally, in a fit of desperation, I truly ‘let go’ and agreed. The upshot was I became one of two top rated instructors – based on feedback by the students – and was even offered a posting as the trainer for a large plant in Georgia. Despite this success when I was encouraged to volunteer at KTNA and do live radio I was once again shy and afraid. But I needed a way to become more familiar with the immediate area as well as get my name out – I moved to the Talkeetna area knowing no local folks – so I finally agreed. I’ve now been doing live radio as either newscasts or music shows for almost four years and I cannot imagine not doing so. None of this would’ve happened had I not ‘let go’ and just went with the flow.
So why do I continue to resist and even fear letting go? I have a bad habit of trying to make my life as comfortable (i.e. ‘secure’) as possible yet in my 63 years I’ve yet to learn that to really exceed at such an effort virtually guarantees I will become ‘comfortably numb’. As soon as this settles in I become bored, lazy and begin to lose sight of that big picture. And this causes a loss of moderation and focus as well as a feeling of being out of balance. Ultimately, this will lead to depression and a loss of interest regarding life in general; I know because I’ve walked this path far too many times. So once again, given I know all this why do I so resist letting go? I suspect it all comes back to that ‘devil in the details’ involved in knowing something intellectually but not really embracing it spiritually. My memories prove to me that letting go produces some wonderful results and is rarely negative; this forces me to accept the premise on an intellectual basis. But my fear of releasing my ‘security’ – illusionary as it is – and really allowing myself to just go with the flow still frightens me and causes me to ultimately accept comfortable numbness over the unknown. While age has exacerbated this issue I cannot place all the blame in that area as I have demonstrated real ‘neophobe’ tendencies for decades. No, I do fear dropping my guard to allow myself to really let go and I also am lazy and I know doing so will require a lot of energy. But long term refusal to at least try to just go with the flow will lead to a negative situation which I know all too well.
Quite obviously I am a human being with some definite imbalances and one of the worst is the aforementioned inability to resolve my perceived need for security versus my acknowledgement of the benefits of just letting go and allowing the Universe to offer up ideas and paths for me to walk. In a way by identifying this imbalance I’ve taken the first step towards working the issue and, hopefully, resolving it. A simple axiom from long ago comes to mind as I reflect upon this situation; ‘none are so blind as those who will not see’. Perhaps it is time for me to finally face the delusion of my ‘security’ and come to ‘see’, at the deepest levels, its myth..?
Ok maybe unlike myself you should peak behind the curtain and take that different bend in the road, because inside of ourselves we are all different and what is balance for one is stagnation for another.
Good advice, Pete! Mainly, I’d just like to escape my current mental doldrums which is another way of saying I’m dealing with depression once again. But, hey, I’ll start eating two bananas a day instead of just one and take my magnesium supplement. Both will help get me started in getting back my balance and once that’s underway it is much easier for me to push my situation in more positive directions.
Depression has an ugly head. You probably know what to do. The oncoming winter makes it a bit harder to stay active and motivated. Wishing you the best. Good thing you see the warning signs.
Thanks for the kind wishes! I’ve dealt with depression for decades and, indeed, lived with the undiagnosed ailment from early high school until I was almost 40. Not sure what happened around 38 years of age but I’m betting something biochemical changed within my body. I’d struggled with hay fever since birth and in southern Wisconsin and southern Michigan I learned to dread the mid-August until the first frost time frame as my head would fill up, I’d sneeze sometimes to the point of almost passing out, my nose would run and my eyes would water and itch. But I never felt hay fever’s effects in August of 1991 – or ever again – which surprised me as I waited for the aforementioned symptoms to manifest themselves. Only within another three to four months did I realize I was feeling so much better in terms of my outlook and perspective; it was as though a huge weight had been lifted and my surroundings were now so colorful and pleasant. With time I came to realize I’d been struggling with depression since early high school; it had been so ubiquitous I never realized what it was and had just assumed it was a part of my character. To this day I do not know what happened but I am most thankful the curse was lifted! Since that time I’ve dealt with bouts of depression but they are generally short lived and nowhere near the crippling intensity I remember from that earlier period. And this time is no different; already I’m feeling a bit better and I expect this will continue across the next few days until I’m pretty much back to the ‘old me’. I know I can assist this process by upping my doses of vitamin D and magnesium; I’ve already doubled my banana consumption to 2 fresh bananas a day. In addition I’m trying to get more exercise as that always helps as well. Unlike earlier times just the knowledge that ‘this, too, shall pass’ is probably the best medicine. Last winter I learned the value of getting at least 5,000 IU’s per day of vitamin D – come December and January 10,000 IU’s is even better – in fighting off the effects of SAD. While this ailment really never hit me hard I’ve found I can almost completely ameliorate it by taking the aforementioned. Exercise in winter is important, as you mentioned, and thankfully I have two big dogs who demand daily walks!
I see, you know what it takes to fight depression and I am glad to hear your positive outlook. Yes, exercise, good nutrition, a purpose, and friends (including non-humans) are your best bets. Stay positive!
Excellent advice, my Friend! Yes, given my long experience with depression and my more recent luck in battling it I am probably as well prepared to face this challenge as anyone can be. My heart does go out to anyone facing such a demanding test as it can be a lonely, arduous confrontation and it has claimed more than its fair share of lives. I’m just so pleased I can manage the condition without having to resort to medications! Thanks again for your wisdom and upbeat postings!!
Reminding myself every day that the sun is always there and it’s just the clouds that come and go, writing a blog is part of my therapy.
I am happy to know that my notes to myself sometimes connect.
Connect without question! I know that feeling as well; I often get when I do ‘make that connection’ with someone else in the blogosphere. Such feelings are not unlike those I felt when volunteering at an assisted living facility in SE Michigan working with memory impaired elderly. Even if it lasted for just a few seconds and was destined to be forgotten within a minute or two feeling that connection always made me smile and reinforced why I was doing such work. I, too, blog as a part of my own therapy; it is cheap, relatively healthy and as I love to write it feeds that need…
I miss you. I’m still in AK. We are in Kenai now and I don’t get in here as much as I’d like. Send me an email and let me know you are ok and still a part of my online world! Please? Kris (email@example.com)