Balancing Act

In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, author Charles Wheelan wrote: “Your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn’t always the same thing.” I believe that this is an important–if subtle–distinction. Thank God my parents taught me to eat my vegetables and get eight hours of sleep every night. I am deeply grateful to them for instilling in me a respect for healthy habits. (Thanks, Mom! Thanks, Dad!) However, I am also beginning to understand that a life fully lived may include a bit of stretching the comfort zone, so to speak.

Here’s why I bring this up: I have been involved with a project for the past few months that I really enjoy. But as the workload increased, I started feeling overwhelmed and I caught myself being increasingly evasive about what I could commit to. You see, my parents taught me well. I know what’s good for me. I was feeling out of balance. So I backed off, hemmed and hawed, made a fuss about my schedule being too busy, and felt stressed and anxious about the whole thing. My point is, this may not have been what was best for me in the longer-term, existential scheme of things.

Here is what I have since decided: within reason, I think that getting off balance for the sake of a project that one really cares about makes sense. Now, I don’t recommend going off the deep end in any big way: if you don’t have time to eat, shower, or brush your teeth, then you may be in need of a little more balance. That’s just my opinion. However, life is an adventure to be lived fully, and we don’t know our limits until we test them. (Don’t tell my parents I said this.)

So today, I am reevaluating my relationship with balance. Vegetables are important; sleep is important; balance is important. But so is digging in, going for the gold, and leaving nothing on the field. Now I have to go finish that novel.

One Comment

  1. Good revelation Lucy. I know as an architecture student, my best work tended to come during concentrated bursts of energy, followed by dazed stretches laboring in the wee hours of the night. Depending on the scope of the project, this might span anywhere from an evening to a week plus. The longer you go of course, the more important sleep becomes, because at some point, exhaustion will cancel out all the added benefit of working longer and sleeping less (a fact that was lost on many of my architectural classmates, who would stay up for 2, 3 or even 4 nights in a row with no rest). Even with sleep though, working all day is still mentally exhausting; once finished, it can be easy to forget how much of a struggle it was at the time (the inspired phase only lasts so long, and is often followed by the panic and hopelessness phase ;). If you can push through it all and finish though, you will be rewarded in the end. There is a caveat however- before ever starting, it usually helps to have some sort of imminent deadline. My own experience has been that self imposed deadlines tend to be unreliable… but maybe you have an editor and or publisher to get you going? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *