Finding balance in our turbulent environment
Over the past few months I have been thinking about finding balance. First the objective was to balance a busy professional life with more time for personal things. In just two weeks, it has swung drastically to the other end of the scale, with lots more time for personal things and seeking balance with professional activities. How quickly life can change!
To visualize my goal, the idea of a bubble level came to mind. This type of level (also called a spirit level) is used to make sure a surface is horizontal or vertical and is often used by carpenters, stonemasons and bricklayers. When the bubble is centered in the liquid, you know an object is level.
The turbulence of the past few weeks makes me wonder: is it possible to be level or find balance while things are changing so rapidly? I found inspiration from two book passages described below.
Perhaps in these turbulent times it is important to stay close to the ground. In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer discusses a time of depression. At one point his therapist offered this image,
“You seem to look upon depression as the hand of an enemy trying to crush you. Do you think you could see it instead as the hand of a friend, pressing you down to ground on which it is safe to stand?”
Palmer adds his own observations,
I started to understand that I had been living an ungrounded life, living at an altitude that was inherently unsafe. The problem with living at high altitude is simple: when we slip, as we always do, we have a long, long way to fall, and the landing may well kill us. The grace of being pressed down to the ground is also simple: when we slip and fall, it is usually not fatal, and we can get back up
I was also inspired by the image of a trapeze artist from the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. It includes a story about the relationship between the trapeze flyer and the catcher,
“The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. He must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him. But he must wait. His job is not to flail about in anxiety. In fact, if he does, it could kill him. His job is to be still. To wait. And to wait is the hardest work of all.”
Perhaps this turbulent time is encouraging us to stay close to the ground where we are more able to center the bubble. And to wait in absolute trust until the world is ready to move forward.
Each day I receive a range of articles about actions to take during the Coronavirus crisis. They are somewhat overwhelming, especially when it is not clear how things will work out. I am more inspired by these ideas of staying close to the ground and remaining patient.
With some extra time and space to reflect, I will see how to apply these ideas to find balance: the place where the bubble is centered and my spirit is level.
Questions for consideration.
1. With the rapid changes in our current environment, are you flailing about or waiting in absolute trust?
2. What could help you to stay grounded and find a place where your bubble is centered and your spirit feels level?
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