Balance is my word of the year


"Balance" by Simon King. Used with permission of a Creative Commons license here

Someone on my Facebook feed posted an Onion article from 2013 whose headline was: Man Still Trying To Find Right Work-Anxiety–Life-Anxiety Balance. The entire hilarious piece is here.

The Onion seems to always get it just right. One of my favorite quotations from the piece is

While Humphrey said that his inability to maintain an anxiety-filled equilibrium in his professional and personal spheres was a source of frustration, he emphasized that he has made a conscious effort to fit both types of angst into his busy schedule.

For an anxiety-driven person, this resonates so deeply. Sometimes I think my life would actually be better if I could just focus on one anxiety at a time instead of multi-tasking them in one huge maelstrom.

Of course the thing that makes this funny is their use of the word “balance,” which we normally think of as inherently good. It is a positive value that the Onion undermines by putting equally bad things on either end of the spectrum.

It was just the catalyst I needed to think about what I want to turn my attention to in 2017. A few years ago I chose as a New Year’s Resolution to be more mindful. It was a wonderful year of discovery, really digging into what mindfulness is and how I might weave it into my life.

Two years later, I’m still meditating and still remembering to breathe, still noticing where I am in the moment. Not always, of course. But I’ve grown immensely.

For this year, I’m going to turn my attention to balance. It is my word of the year.

It’s hard to keep the world in balance, to keep from tipping into one place and getting stuck there. This past December the balance tipped and I fell into one of the more anxious months since I was officially in remission from bladder cancer.

It was a perfect storm of tests and doctors and conflicts and disappointments. There were days in December that felt very much like the days and weeks around my initial diagnosis of cancer. I was in the palm of fear on some days, distracted and distraught. For details read this and this.

All the mindfulness, the counseling, and the medications seemed to have been wasted as I tipped into some very dark places.

However, once my family and I were on an airplane to spend the holidays with our friends in Florida, I let it go. I was able to breathe.

By that time, of course, the test results were in and the news was good. I stepped off a plane into the warmth of friends and love. And sun, warm Florida sun.

I guess I sort of tipped into a good place.

I’m struggling at the moment to come up with an image that represents balance for me. The first thing that comes to mind is a skate board and learning to shift your weight to keep the board level. But balance isn’t always about equilibrium.

I also think about the leg exercises I do standing on one foot at a time for 15 seconds and then switching. My whole body has to respond to the one leg that is supporting it.

Or a riding a bike. You learn that the only way to keep it balanced is by pedaling, moving forward.

It will be, then, a year of exploration. I encourage you to choose a word for your own life for the year, a concept that you can focus on and give attention to that will improve your well being. If you choose a word, please share it with me and report on your progress. I will be reporting to you on mine.

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