The Art of Mirriam Neal

//on finding balance

The dictionary defines balance as ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.’ When I use the word balance, I usually envision a juggler – doing as many things as possible without letting any of the balls drop, because dropping a ball means failure. If I write up that long-awaited blog post, edit several chapters, and work on a commission, but realize I forgot to respond to that one Facebook message? Failure.

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It’s that last word in the definition that gets me. Steady. Strangely, I don’t usually correlate ‘balance’ and ‘steady.’ Steady implies some kind of calm, of peace that isn’t rushing to get everything done and be everything everyone thinks I am. It implies tranquility. Juggling is hardly tranquil, and I find that when I fall into the mindset of Balance = Juggling Without Dropping the Ball, I’m anything but tranquil. Even if I seem calm on the outside, inside I’ve hollowed myself out and replaced vital organs with to-do lists and check-marks.

This isn’t to say productivity isn’t a good thing. It’s a very good thing; and when I’m not productive, I’m not happy. But there’s a difference between productivity and constant stress. In fact, I’m far more productive when I’m relaxed – and the end result of my productivity is better because I’m able to put my soul into it.

I think finding real balance means realizing the idea of balance is a fluid thing. I tend to think of balance as a straight line down the middle of my life, pointing toward Perfection – but this is not an accurate illustration. Balance changes and shifts depending on where I am. Some days I have the energy to finish two art commissions, write a chapter, edit a chapter, write a blog post for my blog and another website I write for, and spend time with people I love. Other days, if I attempted to do all that, I’d be burned out. Some days balance means sitting at my desk and writing steadily, other days it means spending a day in Atlanta with my mom and sister.

Balance is not a fixed point, and finding my balance is something I need to do every day and every day again. So here’s to balance, and discovering it anew each morning.

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