Everything in moderation…including moderation…
Last week I had a temporary dog. Woody, a 12 year old lab-mutt cross, has been keeping me company and making me go for long walks every day. He looks at me with those big brown eyes and gray muzzle and I’m sunk. Thankfully, the weather was amazing here on the Wet Coast last week. Sunny and dry and warm, but not too warm, the perfect dog frolicking weather! The perfect everyone frolicking weather, truth be told. Having an old timer dog encouraged me to get outside and I think poor Woody felt like he had been sent to fat camp with the overabundance of exercise.
One fine Monday late afternoon, on our way home from the dog park, I was lost in thought, daydreaming, when the toe of my muddy Blundstone boot caught an uneven patch on the sidewalk. I felt my toe catch and I felt myself lurching forward. In what felt like slow motion, yet no time at all, I was windmilling my arms in a panicked effort to stay upright, while I was propelled forward by the force of my toe-stubbing. As I attempted to maintain my balance, and continue to hold onto Woody’s leash, ball chucker and my sunglasses, I knew that something was going to be dropped. I couldn’t balance it all. My right knee hit the pavement and I slid along the sidewalk with such force and velocity, that I managed to rip a giant hole in my brand new jeans and leave the skin from my knee somewhere ingrained in the concrete. Sitting on the sidewalk, in somewhat of a daze, my first thought was “I hope no one saw that”. This was quickly followed up by, “Is anything broken?” “F*#K! My brand new jeans!!” and “Is that blood? Where is that coming from?” I looked over at Woody, who was panicked because his favorite, dirty, chewed and wet, tennis ball had come loose from the ball chucker and was slowly rolling down the sidewalk. As he lunged for his ball, I made my way to my feet and assessed the damage quickly. A dark blue streak of what once was the knee of my favourite new jeans was embedded in the concrete. It looked like I had stepped on a Smurf. With a furtive glance around, to see who might have seen the spectacle that was my brush with a broken hip, I gathered up my dignity and kept on walking home. I shook my head as my knee oozed and I discovered a new “gouge” on my knuckle. I thought in my long, painful walk home, about balance and the fine line that it is.
a : physical equilibrium; the ability to retain one’s balance;
b : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis;
c : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements;
d : accounting : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account;
e : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements;
f : weight or force of one side in excess of another;
g : mental and emotional steadiness
I’ve always been clumsy. Before I officially started school at six years old, I had already knocked myself out cold at least twice, that I remember anyway. These memories, or lack of, could quite easily be impacted by those concussions. And I rolled my ankle on numerous occasions…too many to count…prompting a visit to the “foot doctor” and being told that my ligaments and tendons were so “loose” that I should consider a career in the circus. Every time my ankle “rolled” or gave out, I would end up on the ground, unable to keep my balance and stay upright. Thankfully, I never sustained any serious injuries from these frequent trips to the ground.
This word is bounced around with great frequency and velocity…not in terms of literally staying on my feet, but rather of a balanced lifestyle, of work-life balance, of balancing spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health. I’ve always been an individual of extremes. Work-life balance has been elusive. In my past life, when I was in Hospital Administration, my work-life balance was heavily swayed in the direction of work. Chained to a Blackberry, I was constantly on call, on alert, and the expectation to answer each and every email in the speediest manner possible, made achieving balance an impracticality. Upon return from the Bahamas, into a specialized, private, health management role, the balance was once again off. But this time, the balance was swayed to the side of too much life. The timing was wrong. I predominantly worked from home and did not have enough of it to occupy me all day. There were days that would go by where I did not speak to another living person. In an attempt to get out of my head and manage my anxieties, I ran myself into a broken foot. Forcing me off my feet and straight back into my head, and heart, throwing my balance off again.
I continue to struggle. To stay on my feet…in all ways.
What does balance mean? What does that look like in my life? How does one attain this mythical state? Do I want to live my life in moderation? Is it about awareness and insight? And knowing when to pull back in one area and give in another?
My brand new favourite jeans are now fashionably “distressed”, my knee is healing and growing back a new layer of skin, and I have regained my balance with two feet on the ground. However, I know it won’t be long before I moderate moderation and go to another extreme…likely losing my balance and potentially hitting the ground…or the wall. But that is what “they” say, everything in moderation, including moderation.