The wise guys say Life is a balance. Physically that is a truth. You breathe in and you breathe out. Too much breathing in and you hyperventilate; too little and you turn blue. Eat too much and you gain weight; eat too little and you waste away.
Balance is fascinating. I remember that as kids, my friends and I used to try getting the teeter-totter plank to sit perfectly level on its fulcrum as we piled on. We never did get it quite right. We tried sitting in different positions on the see-saw board, adjusting the mix of thin and fat kids and throwing in assorted pets as part of the challenge. It was a heck of a lot of fun.
This YouTube video, “Defying Gravity With Korea’s Premier Balance Artist” was recently published by Great Big Story, the result of a collaboration with Korean Air. In it artist Rocky Byun, a “balance artist” based in Tancheon, South Korea demonstrates how he is able to find the balance point in anything – rocks, furniture…even bikes and motor scooters. His amazing sculptures appear to defy gravity.
In another, earlier video filmed at a shopping mall in Dubai and posted to YouTube by Pretty Pink in 2013, Byun is shown performing his art. He constructs sculptures that incorporate everything from a bunch of irregularly shaped rocks, a laptop, a motor scooter, and even a small refrigerator standing on one corner.
ORIGINS OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE
There is one balancing act that is even more difficult than what Byun and his fellow balance artists can do. That is the one that’s been dubbed “the work-life balance.”
Everybody is supposed to work at getting that one right. Somehow, some way, we are all supposed to aim for developing an optimal career AND have an optimal family or personal life as well. Ri-i-i-ght.
Before the Industrial Revolution, there wasn’t much talk about trying to balance work and the rest of life. Most people lived in the middle of their work. Farmers, for example, lived on their farms and the whole family pitched in to help grow and harvest crops as well as take care of all the other things necessary for living.
Work and the rest of life were not separate things. Work was just part of living. With the developments of automation, factories, and corporate offices came the Big Divide. It became normal for “work” to happen “someplace else.”
“Work” became a “job” or a “career” and got compartmentalized away from the other lifestyle things like family, health, leisure, pleasure, community-building and spiritual development. The priorities of the work-place and the job or the career were often very different from the kinds of priorities one needs to set for personal development or for the growing of relationships and families.
It all takes time and effort, no matter whether you want to get good at your job, advance in your career, develop as an individual, or participate in group or community activities. It can get terribly complicated.
The expression “work-life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970’s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and his or her personal life. In the United States, the phrase was first used in 1986.
DEALING WITH THE SEPARATION OF WORK AND LIFE
By 2010 there were all kinds of studies about work-life balances and imbalances and the effect that work has on the rest of a person’s life. It’s a given, they say: When the work-life balance is out-of-whack, you get out of whack.
Theories abound about how one goes about finding a “proper” balance. Everybody weighs in with their own prescriptions and solutions to the dilemma as technology makes it easier and easier to stay connected with your work-world regardless of where you happen to be.
It’s sort of ironic, that. Now “work” happens at home again and still we separate it from the rest of life.
It would not be so distressing if there wasn’t such a lot of guilt attached to our failure to get the balance “right” and real. You want to be a success at your work. You want to have a grand family life and lots of friends and so on.
Everybody tells you that you can do it all, have it all. (And the sub-text is: What are ya? Lazy or something?)
BALANCE OR BUST
The problem, of course, is that you’re trying to make all the differently weighted and shaped things in your life form a structure that defies gravity….flies, even. You’re trying to be an amateur balance artist and your structures don’t come out looking elegant and awesome like Byun’s work. Trying to get the balance right is not nearly half as much fun as the game my friends and I used to play with the see-saws.
One way to make it all work is to run yourself ragged trying to get it all done. That one often ends up with you all twisted into a stressed-out pretzel. Not good.
Another way to find the right “balance” for you is to decide what your purpose is in life, what brings meaning and mana to it…not somebody else’s pronouncements about what is right and good and real. Just your own thoughts.
Here’s a YouTube video, “Work/Life Balance Is a Myth” by award-winning American photographer Chase Jarvis. In it, he points out that not everyone is cut out for the mad dash of doing-doing-doing that can lead to $ucce$$ big-time…and the real is, they don’t actually have to be.
It is possible, after all, to have a meaningful ordinary life. It just depends on what you want and where you put your head.
Jarvis helped to co-found an online education platform, creativeLIVE in 2010. The group puts together free on-line classes and works to help Creatives market their work. The tools they provide can help other Creatives realize their own dreams. A good thing.
FINAL THOUGHT – ANOTHER IPS
Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that you are the framework of your own life. [You’re the only one who can balance the elements of your life to create a synergy that supports you as you dance to your own heartsong.]
Here’s a poem:
The mundanities are three:
People, money, and time.
If you understand those things,
The world will start to rhyme.
If the Celestial’s your focus,
The Mundane will make you fall.
Too much of the Mundane
And you can’t see up at all.
The only answer’s balance
And that’s not easy to do.
There really is no recipe
For this ever-changing stew.
You do the best you can,
You give the best you’ve got,
You’ll rise up and you’ll fall
And for sure you’ll hurt a lot.
And when there are no answers
When you can’t see what to do,
You can only trust the simple truth
Residing inside of you:
That the Universe keeps changing,
Moving first this way, then that,
And if you follow where it leads you,
You might make it through intact.
by Netta Kanoho
Header photo credit: “Balance” by Thomas Hawke via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
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