ALONE painted by Issac Maimon. From the HH Collection.
Can you honestly say that your life is in balance?
by Bridget Geegan Blanton
Most people hesitate before answering this question. They pause on the word "honestly." I wanted to believe that my life was in balance. The truth is that there was a lot of hustle and not enough harmony. I swore off my regular schedule one week, not because I'm incredibly introspective about my interior life, but because I came down with a cold. Believe me, I had some major events planned, but was forced to draw a line through all of them on my calendar because I could barely get out of bed. This cold pulled the rug out from beneath me. It knocked me on my 'you know what'! There I was buried in blankets, a box of tissues at arm's length, a bag of throat drops surrounded by wrappers and in my hand was the TV remote. I surfed the regular cold sufferer's channels, a.k.a. cooking shows, old movies and tabloid tell-all's until I just couldn't take it anymore.
My busy schedule prior to picking up this death bed cold virus, never provided for the time I really wanted to spend reading, at a single sitting. My usual reading time consists of that hour or so just before I fell off to sleep. Next to my bed were a number of books, all spiritual in nature that I just had to have upon discovering them in the bookstore, but hadn't touched since. The house was quiet, the dog was asleep and nobody would be home for hours. The perfect scenario to catch up on some forgotten reading material. I started out by finishing a book I had laid aside some weeks earlier. Amongst the parting thoughts of this book was a segment on healing.
The chapter began with a declaration that people become ill because their lives are out of balance. This state of being lacks even moments of true serenity. All of the negative emotional and mental fall-out attributed to an unbalanced life, can negatively affect the immune system. Considering the current state of my own health, I had to say that this theory rang true. The week before, when I was healthy, my days were spent achieving one task after another. Not once did I seriously question the validity of any of these particular errands or duties. I didn’t do the math, you might say. Was the sum of these achievements contributing towards the fullness of my life? This list of mine all but dictated how I spent my day. Why didn’t I listen to my own complaints about how I spent my days? I remember saying to a friend of mine that the only time I felt like I actually slowed down that week, was when I shopped at the nearby organic market. I take my time there. The ambiance of this particular market just seems to have that affect on me. Although I recall, being aware of a suspicion that my life lacked balance, I rationalized my life style instead of contemplating this intuitive feeling. After all, I had too much to get done!
What appears to be an unbalanced, overly busy pace for one person might be true zen for another but, that is beside the point. That one afternoon, in midst of an awful cold, I had a clear and unambiguous realization that my life had gotten to the point where I rarely had a moment I could call my own. The pace I kept, the responsibilities I chose to shoulder, my failure to initiate periods of true rest and relaxation all required an honest, second look. Although I truly felt horrible due to my cold, I didn't miss the crazy running around. Sure, serenity was definitely missing from my life, but how can I tip the scales in favor of inner peace when this schedule of mine simply had no open blocks? Then, it dawned on me. I needed to simplify my life.
Maybe there's something to this connection between a balanced life and a healthy immune system. I was certain that I would do just about anything to avoid another cold like the one I had. I would also love, enjoy and cherish a life that was less hectic, less insane. It's true, we go through unavoidable periods of hard work for reasons we feel are worthwhile. Those periods come and go and should not characterize the quality or lack thereof in our lives. While we're here on this planet, we should be racking up more of those wonderful moments with family, friends, nature or a good book; whatever it is, that will bring more quality into our day. Knocking off task after task on an endless 'to-do' list at the cost of our personal serenity is not worth the time spent on it; not even close.
Simplifying our lives in order to introduce more serenity and joy into our day requires decisive action. I had to take a good, hard look at some of the things I had gotten myself involved in. My absence from certain proceedings on my schedule would not sway the course of history if I bowed out. In all honesty, these commitments are best described as moments of saying 'yes' when I should have said 'no'. I also failed to delegate. I realized further, that it would simplify my life incredibly, if I just let go of the time-devouring need for perfection. I could also make a sacrifice in one area, in order to find the funds necessary to hire on a little help for the chores of daily living. It was obvious that I needed to simplify just about every area of my life.
Essentially, to simplify is to live with less clutter and less distraction. To be honest, I would much rather delve into one of those books I suddenly remembered why I had purchased, than be sitting at some meeting where the lack of my presence wouldn't change a thing. Bottom line, even though I was suffering from one heck of a cold, I noticed that my mind seemed less cluttered. I felt calm and introspective and I liked it. I even felt liberated. I was unable to accomplish the items on the schedule that week I was sick, and I realized they would have added nothing to my life except something more to do. I needed less of that. I would much rather find the time to simply exist. I craved more of a natural rhythm and less of a hectic pace.
And so, as I searched for my chapstick in the blankets, I promised myself that things were 'gonna change. I was going after this life I really wanted because it was within reach. A little delegating, some deliberate activity deletion, and a major Salvation Army pick-up would improve my life - greatly. As I coughed and I ached and I eventually recovered from that cold, I had a little ray of hope about the days ahead. I was excited for the change and the opportunity to reclaim my life. I was given the gift of clarity and either I acted on it and re-shaped my life or I drifted back into a state of being where I was ruled by the schedule, instead of the other way around. Let me report that I chose the road of simplicity and haven't looked back since.
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