Whenever I took one of those magazine, personality quizzes (pre-internet days), I always ended up in the middle, never too much this way or that. As a kid, I believed being a judge was the most important job in the world–you decided what was fair. You balanced the needs of society and the individual. If I read a story about a judge being unfair, I was shocked and even offended. Being a judge meant being fair! They are throwing everything out of balance!
Well, as an adult, I’ve become more jaded about judges. But that’s another matter.
A common answer of mine is, “It depends.” Just the other day a student asked me about which “camp” I was in regarding how students should approach a test. This way or that way? Of course, I told him it depended. Sometimes one way, sometimes the other.
In my teenage years, when I read a lot about the zodiac, I loved that I was a Libra. Libras are the scales! They want diplomacy, fairness, balance. Exactly!
The other thing about balance is not just everyone should be treated fairly, but areas of your life should be treated fairly too. Right? You know, that whole work/life balance thing. It seems as if treating all people fairly is harder than it should be. So is balancing all the areas of your life.
I’m reminded of a storyline in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. [mild spoiler ahead] One character thinks half a life means halving the number of years. So, if one is meant to live 80 years, that first half will be spent in the ordinary world and the last half will be spent in the world of fairy. It seemed fair enough. But the other character meant half the life every day. So, one spends half of 24 hours in one world and the other in the other. It is a very different idea of balance. And is, in fact, nightmarish. In this case, perhaps, horrible either way.
Plenty of people seem to struggle with balance in their lives. There are so many aspects to this, I’ll just stick to the big one for me–the creative life on one side of the scales and the rest of life on the other.
If I don’t take care of work, I can’t pay bills and, therefore, will have no place to write, no materials for art, and so on. If I don’t eat and take care of my health, I’ll be too sick to make anything. If I don’t have a good home life, what’s the point anyway? I’ll be depressed, and then I can’t write or draw either. So, while those things seem to get in the way of writing and the like, without them, the scales go awry.
But hours spent on work, exercising and thinking about the next meal, and those many other things, means time not spent writing and creating. Without that time, I go crazy. I’m short-tempered. Depressed. This doesn’t help me at work or at home. And these things can’t be divided by years. Oh, I’ll spend my first half of life on one and the last half on the other. Obviously that won’t work.
It’s the other way. Every day, how many hours in one world and how many in the other? What’s reasonable? What’s fair? Sometimes I feel like on of those judges who has failed miserably at being fair.
I’ve come to the conclusion that even if we find that balance, even if the scales are perfectly set, a wind is going to come along and send them swinging. Or maybe someone will bump into the table the scales are sitting on, and over everything goes!
Life isn’t static. Balance isn’t forever. If everything were in balance every minute of the day, then what would change? What would happen?
In any event, all this is to say, I’m getting ready for Story-A-Day May, which sends the month wildly off. This month will be weighted to writing. And that’s okay. It’s not forever. Eventually, I’ll have to swing back.
Thanks for reading!