I have a saying:
“Everything is a balancing act.”
It seems that most everything we do is a balancing act. Life, really, is nothing but one big act of balancing oneself. It is done in a million different ways:
- Wakefulness and sleep. We need a balance between these to be alert in life.
- Standing up is a balancing act, as our muscles actually have to tug and pull (barely noticeable usually) on all sides to keep us upright.
- Sensory stimuli. Its been shown that if a person is deprived of stimuli then our mind will ‘create’ stimuli with halllucinations and such. If we have too much stimuli it can overwhelm us.
- Work and rest. Working too long will wear us out. If we rest too long we will get apathetic.
- Good and bad moods. We seem to need a balance of good and bad moods. We need up and down days to keep a balance.
- Eating is a balancing act. We have to eat the ‘right amount’. Too little and we’re hungry and may even starve. Too much and we can get fat and have health problems.
And so on. Everywhere I turn in life I see the ‘balancing act’ in one form or another. Overall, life consists of a continual balancing of opposites. It goes on endlessly.
I see several types of balancing:
- Balancing as achieving a “neutral position” between opposites – The Balancing of Neutrality. In this we try to achieve a neutral balance between extremes. That is to say, we don’t swing from one opposite to the other but sort of achieve something like a compromise between the two. It reflects a need for constancy. If we have too much of a compromise it seems to create a ‘stagnation’.
- Balancing as swinging from one extreme to the other extreme – The Balancing of Extremes. In this type we go to one extreme for awhile then go to the other for a while. It reflects a need for opposites. Wandering back and forth or staying in one extreme too long can create an instability in a person.
In many ways, a balance is a ‘balance’ of these two forms of balancing. We need both a neutrality and a wavering about. These two forms of balancing show that in order to achieve a ‘balance’ we need to go ‘out of balance’ (that is, to the extremes) from time to time. We need to go ‘out of balance’ to force us to keep balance. If we were in a ‘neutral’ position all the time then there would be no “force” to keep us balanced. It seems to me that the “force” to keep us balanced needs to be ‘practiced’ or ‘exercised’ like any other ability. Otherwise, it will grow weak. This, then, states that we need to be unbalanced from time to time. This means we need to fall, to fail, to make mistakes, and so on. It also means that, considering its importance, we should give some allowance for us to do this.
As a person, we need to search for and find a good “Idling Balance”. This is the condition of balance that most suits a persons personality and character. It is the balance that best benefits us and keeps us ‘living’ without having problems. Everyone is different. It can also change as a result of a variety of circumstances (age, mood, marriage, profession, etc.). I see the ‘idling balance’ consisting of two qualities that basically match the two forms of balancing above:
- A sense of constant stability (neutrality).
- A sense of variability (extremes).
We all need both of these senses. The question is how much of each do we need and in what form? This is something we must all discover and find out for ourselves. It takes experience, common sense, and self observation to find out. This is part of the proces we must all do to find our ‘idling balance’. Some people will lean to being more constant (neutral). Other people will lean more to variability (extremes). And some people are a variety of both.
This point of view of ‘balance opposiets’ above, in a way, conflicts with the general point of view of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (being opposites) which is like saying that something should be ’embraced’ (the good) or ‘avoided’ (the bad). In other words, something that is ‘bad’ should be completely avoided. But, it seems to me, that whether something is good or bad doesn’t matter. There is no escaping the ‘bad’ in life. Because of this, what matters is the amount of ‘bad’. As a result, a person must, really, achieve a balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things in life. It implies that ‘bad’ is needed in life, and necessary, as well as the ‘good’. In other words, they intertwine in life and compliment each other.
This is not to say that something that is ‘bad’ should be given free reign. There is a spectrum to the ‘bad’. Some ‘bad’ things can be tolerated easily and some ‘bad’ things cannot be tolerated at all. We cannot survive being in -50 degree weather with nothing but a shirt and pants. We cannot walk on lava. We cannot stay underwater for very long. There are many things in life that we cannot accept. Their very existence in our life puts us so ‘out of balance’ that it can threaten our lives. This also includes peoples behavour, such as murder or various other crimes. This means there is a point where ‘bad’ is unacceptable and should be avoided at all cost. In other words, there is a point where we get too ‘out of balance’.
As people we seek balance. This also seems true of society. There are all sorts of extremes and variability in a society, much more than an individual person, as societies are made up of many people. These create tensions and problems all the time. As a result, society has always tried to achieve a balance of all these elements. Much of things like culture, tradition, customs, morals, laws, punishments, social structure, etc. are rooted in this need for a balance. They help us balance ourselves as individual people in the society but also balance extremes of behavour (some of which may be unacceptable).
Humanity also has to seek a balance with nature. If you look around the world you’ll see how, for instance, humanity must try to keep itself within a certain temperature range. If its too cold, they build insulated homes with fires or heating of some sort, and wear heavy warm clothes. If its too hot, then they wear little clothes and have simple homes which could be made of leaves and branches. This is part of humanity trying to keep an ‘idling balance’ with nature. Humanity also stays in areas that supply food or other necessities. In actuality, a lot of the world is inhospitable to humanity. This is why humanity congregates to certain areas as it is in these areas where a ‘balance’ is achieved that is acceptable.
All this shows that ‘balance’ is needed in many forms: as individual people, as a society, and in relation to nature. It is ‘balance’ that keeps humanity alive and living, for by being ‘out of balance’ can kill us. This shows the importance of ‘balance’ and its need in life.