The Perfect Balance
He was in his 30s.
My BIL consulted a longtime family friend who had successfully kept his own MS in check for decades with the help of an incredibly restrictive yet scientifically targeted diet. In fact, I remember this man sitting down to an elaborate multi family Christmas meal and eating his salad with avocados never batting an eye. I probably would have ditched my diet for the day, but this man clearly had perseverance and endurance on his side. My BIL, inspired by this man’s great health and optimism surrounding his decades long affliction, decided to give a similar diet a try. My BIL’s willpower and dedication to a radical new way of eating were impressive.
His go to snack became carrots.
Copious amounts of crunchy, convenient carrots.
My sister will now attest that what you learn in high school biology is, in fact, true. You can actually turn your skin orange by eating too many carrots.
More recently, a friend on Facebook posted that she was experiencing some new and disturbing dental problems.
She suspected a lack of calcium due to rigid veganism.
A few years ago, when we still lived in the same town and indulged in lunches out, this lovely lady decided to become a vegetarian. She went full on, flat out, whatever you want to call it and her transformation was inspiring. She continued to educate herself and limit her diet even more by trying veganism. After a herculean food effort over the past three years, her current post acknowledged a growing lack of motivation towards elaborate food preparation and a noticeable deficit in calcium. Stepping back and noticing the impact of her restrictive diet, she decided to re-evaluate what felt like balance in this area of her life.
To her, it felt a little like failure.
But isn’t it amazing how our bodies will tell us when it’s time to recalibrate even if our brains are not quite there yet?
My personal experience of creating balance was with exercise, but maybe not in the way you think.
I used to exercise a lot. I taught Zumba, did weight classes faithfully and had somehow become hooked on running. My body responded really well to all the exercise. I felt energized, motivated and looked pretty trim! My trio friends would check in with me often to make sure I didn’t need an intervention. They never staged a formal meeting but they did wonder if I was crossing the line into mania.
I was a stay at home mom who was mostly focused on parenting and created time to myself with exercise. Running especially cleared my head and rejuvenated my outlook.
I still taught Zumba but weight class became a spotty effort and just like Forest Gump I had stopped running. I just...stopped.
I was perplexed and a little alarmed at my slack.
I forced myself to run in the California sun, but my body felt so heavy and burdened I would quit almost as soon as I started.
I tried to ease into it by oscillating walking and jogging.
I tried psychological methods to get clear whatever mental block was holding me back.
I have not run in years.
What I have done is slowly and awkwardly acknowledged that my passion for pushing myself with exercise literally does not serve me anymore. It doesn’t even sound interesting! I worked hard in my 20’s and 30’s to look good, feel good and say healthy.
I did it.
I even did it pretty well.
In my 40’s, my body has hinted, nay screamed, that it desires something different.
I still teach Zumba, but not as often, and I crave yoga like a comedian craves a dirty joke. Perhaps what yoga does is challenge me the way I was once challenged by physical feats. There is something very satisfying and profound about mastering a new pose or working through a class when all you want to do is walk out because your heart isn’t in it or your brain is racing.
Yoga has helped me grasp the meaning of balance in a very literal way.
That’s where the balance is.
It’s this far outside of what you think is possible, but not so far forward that you land on your face (which has happened a time or two).
It’s a tricky space to find and ever so sweet when you do.
And just when you think you have it, the wind, your mind, maybe gravity, will shift just enough to throw you off and you’ll have to start again.
Or maybe you’ll nail it. But you won’t be able to hold the pose forever.
Balance requires perpetual ebb and flow.
Something that feels balanced in our lives will inevitably fall out of whack and force us to reevaluate.
Sometimes it will require a small, gentle tweak and sometimes it will feel like tearing down and rebuilding a brick wall.
Balance requires letting go of things we thought would never change.
It’s hard to let go, to divorce yourself from sure footing and trust that all will be well.
When you hike yourself up into a balance pose, you can almost feel gravity pull you down as fast as you decide to leap.
Holding on and letting go.
Chaos and balance.
Ebb and flow.
Peace & Light,
The Busy Buddha
Talk Back to the Trio
What metaphors for balance do you find in your daily living?