Thursday, June 14, 2007

Harmony verses Balance

I have to say that my conversation last night with JK got me thinking about this. I have not reached any solid conclusions, but this is what has been on my mind most of last night and this morning.

I think many of us say we are seeking balance in our life. I know I have thought alot about this. Particularly when L was little and I was working. How was I going to manage to balance: work, home, baby, and time for me.

JK and I were discussing this last night. There is no way I would still be sane had I stayed at my old job and H took up being a professional pilot. I think it could be done, but for how long? At what cost? He can be gone for days at a time. JK is currently working way more hours that she thought she would be, and while it is temporary, there is a cost. Your body pays it - lack of sleep, lack of time to recharge, lack of time to exercise, lack of time to eat right. Your mind pays it - lack of sleep, lack of time to refill the creative well, lack of time to gather your thoughts, lack of time to feed the mind. Your family pays it - not getting the whole of you, getting attitude, which comes from being tired and overwhelmed, not connecting, because your are tired and overwhelmed. You pay it, by feeling like you are mastering the tasks before you, you are letting relationships slide, you are giving up me time, you are always in a rush or feeling like you are barely treading water.

I remember those days. I turned down a very good part-time job last spring. It would have been a great move for my career, but after weighing the pros and cons, I decided that I could not make it work. The cost would have been too high, for everyone. I am sure in my day planner I could have somehow created "balance" on paper. I could have managed the schedule. On paper it could have worked, but in my heart I knew L & E would have paid a very high price and I knew H & I would have as well. At the end of the day the money did not make up for everyone's sacrifice. Ultimately there were have been no harmony.

I have decided that harmony is a better description verses balance. Balance seems to me, to mean there is a certain level of evenness or fairness to a situation. I see the scales of justice. I see me during YOGA, trying to perfect the tree pose, very focused on my physical balance. That does not always fit. Making life work may mean that at certain times, the scale will not be exactly even, but on a whole - when life is in harmony, it has a flow, a give and take, that in the end feel good, feels right, brings with it a sense of balance.

I know I am supposed to be able to "have it all" but as I have come to discover - having it all comes at a very big cost. Sacrificing harmony is one of them, I am not sure I am willing to pay that price. It helps that I can make this choice - knowing that L & E are not starving based on my choosing to step off the career track. Many people do not have this luxury. Which brings me to another matter on my mind. Why have we set up out society in this way? Why is it that as a country, a culture we do not value harmony more? Why is the greater good not considered when decisions are made. Why is it parents must choose between reading to their children and paying the mortgage? Balance and harmony are really important: for health, for life, for sanity.

It reminds me of what Bob Jackson, my high school social studies teacher, told me one day:

Susan, you have to decide: do you want to make a living or do you want to make a life?

At 17, I had no idea what he was talking about, now I think I really do.

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