More Than Just An Act

The first email I read yesterday morning was from a friend who is also reading Andrew Pike’s ‘The Talking Stick’, and who wrote, ‘Actually just read the bit about balancing acts – so your blog post was well timed.’

‘Oh dear,’ I thought, ‘I’d better catch up!’ I picked up the book shortly thereafter, and quickly finished the chapter I was on, and then proceeded to the relevant chapter, entitled ‘A Question of Balance’. Since balance is such a crucial factor both in my general thinking, and the aspirations I have for what I wish to achieve within myself and my life, it seems worth dwelling on this a little more, and sharing some of Pike’s insights that struck a chord with me. The first paragraph that really caught my attention was:

‘…our lives are about choice and passion. If we have all of our passion in a particular area, the chances are that that is where we will choose to spend our time, effort and energy, but we may then find ourselves very challenged to balance everything else in our life against the time-grabbing passion area.’

Passion plays a prominent part in my life, in all areas. On Mandela Day last year, the CEO at the incredible place I work gave each manager a quote from Nelson Mandela, appropriate to our area of work and our personalities, to read out when all our staff, volunteers and visitors had gathered together for a minute of silence, and prayer. The one she handed to me with a smile was,

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

It rung true: I make most of my major life decisions based predominantly on passion; from romantic relationships, choice of study and career, to sport. I do what I love, and steer towards what stirs and inspires me: and I love what I do. Luckily this does not close off enough options to feel restrictive, as I have a lot of passion for a wide variety of things! In fact, I often find it difficult to make decisions simply because there are too many avenues I wish to pursue, rather than because there aren’t enough choices to inspire me. It also does not mean that I refuse to do tasks that I don’t enjoy: I am fully aware that there are always less fun practicalities that are necessary in order to achieve my purposes. If I wish to enjoy the peace of a clean and organised home, I need to be willing to tidy and clean; if I wish to be fast in a boat, I need to be willing to put in hours of training (which, luckily, I enjoy in itself, most of the time!). Of course passion that is not counter-balanced by temperance, and an awareness of my overarching purposes, can and has led me down many paths that have undermined other intentions in my life, and I thus feel an increasing need to clearly and regularly establish where it is I truly want to steer my course, and ensure my choices and actions support that.

Choice is, of course, the other important element here, and that is part of what this year is about: maintaining my sense of agency, remembering that I am free to make choices every second of every day, and not allowing myself to fall back into feeling like a victim of others or circumstances when things do not progress exactly as I wish them to, or think they should.

There were many other interesting aspects of balance discussed within the chapter, but the final one that really struck me was the very last lines:

“Ultimately, Life is a question of balance and if we can turn it into balance by choice, rather than a balancing act which, by its very name and nature is not the truth, we will come into balance with the Universe.”

That certainly made me pause for reflection, and momentarily regret the choice of my last blog title: but then again, perhaps it was a lesson I needed to really let sink in. Yes, indeed: part of my purpose is to stop acting, and start being.

I have been putting many of my resolutions into practice as I clarify exactly what they are and how I am going to put them into action, but my official tracking of my results (charts here we come!) begins tomorrow. One of my action points is to post to my blog at least once a week, even if it is only a very brief check-in. This is to provide me with a structure to continue to assess how I am doing against my targets as the year progresses, and my January enthusiasm fades, but also to remind me to connect with the outside world, and indeed just to write: writing is an essential part of my creativity, connection, expression and self-reflection, all of which I neglect at times. So, after over a year of near-silence, I’m hereby committing to become a regular blogger again 🙂

I would like to end today with a song which a friend posted on facebook a few months ago, and has really helped me through some difficult days: Ben Howard, ‘Keep Your Head Up’

“I spent my time watching
The spaces that have grown between us.
And I cut my mind on second best,
Oh the scars that come with the greenness.
And I gave my eyes to the boredom,
Still the seabed wouldn’t let me in.
And I try my best to embrace the darkness
In which I swim.

Now walking back, down this mountain,
The strength of a turnin’ tide.
Oh the wind so soft, at my skin,
Yeah the sun so hot upon my side.
Oh lookin’ out at this happiness
I searched for between the sheets,
Oh feelin’ blind, to realize,
All I was searchin’ for… was me.
Oh oh-oh, all I was searchin’ for was me.

Oh yeah, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set, keep your hair long.
Oh my, my darlin’, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Na, oh, no, no, keep your mind set in your ways.
Keep your heart strong.

Now I saw a friend of mine, the other day,
And he told me that my eyes were gleamin’.
Oh I said I’d been away, and he knew…
Oh he knew the depths I was meanin’.
And it felt so good to see his face,
All the comfort invested in my soul,
Oh to feel the warmth, of his smile,
When he said, ‘I’m happy to have you home.’
Oh oh-oh, I’m happy to have you home.

Oh yeah, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set, keep your hair long.
Oh my, my darlin’, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set in your ways.
Well keep your heart strong.

‘Cause I’ll always remember you the same.
Oh eyes like wildflowers, oh with your demons of change.

(Keep your head up)
(Keep your heart strong)
(Keep your head up)
(Keep your heart strong) May you find happiness here.
(Keep your head up)
(Keep your heart strong)
(Keep your head up)
(Keep your heart strong) May all your hopes all turn out right.

Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set, keep your hair long.
Oh my, my darlin’, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set in your ways.
Keep your heart strong.

‘Cause I’ll always remember you the same.
Oh eyes like wildflowers, oh with your demons of change.”

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6 thoughts on “More Than Just An Act

  1. Laurel Im so pleased you’re going to “stick around” 😊. When I was in treatment for alcoholism many years ago ai was inteoduced to the concept of balance qnd I actually wondered what they (the counsellors) were “ranting” on about. I realised over time that balance is so important and I had been oblivious to the need for it. It has figured greatly in my life since then and has stood me in good stead for the many challenges I am faced with regarding this MS intruder, whom at best I tolerate as I have no choice but who will never be welcome in my life. Its strange, but I learned a new way of living in early recovery which has stuck with me and the 12 step program, which is an integral part of my life has helped me enormously in my learning how to accept and manage this unwelcome condition – silver linings maybe? 😊

    Your bringing up the subject of balance just at this time is good for me as its one of those things which, if it can grab a chance, will make for an open window and flutter off. So thank you,

    Your new year sounds to be getting off to a good ordered start. I hope it continues so for you.

    Love
    xxx

    1. Morning Christine,
      I always find it so valuable when you share your experiences, and the road you’ve traveled. I am so very glad that writing of balance came at a helpful time for you too.

      It’s been a tough week thus far, but so it goes… and we solider on 🙂

      Big hugs xxx

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