A Balanced Life

This morning as I was walking home from dropping the kids off at their various educational institutions, I was taking account of everything that I need to get done today and I realized somewhat dispassionately that there is no way that I can accomplish everything. Teaching, research, mobilizing around immigrants and bias-free policing, social justice committee work, prepping for Halloween, a full dishwasher and laundry that needs to get hung, a shower, picking up the kids and getting them to afternoon extracurriculars, dogs that need a bath.

Don’t take this as a lament about being overextended. Instead see it as a list of the things that I would like to see to. I am actually quite happy with my life and appreciate the balance I’ve managed to strike between my occupational and intellectual life, family, and my general person-in-the-world-ness. I don’t have it all, to be sure, but I sure have a great gig with as many facets and twists and turns as I can possibly manage. I like it this way even as I see the trade-offs in terms of my attainments in various spheres of life. I also see my current balance as fleeting and there is no telling what it will look like next. The future is uncertain but a more affirmative characterization of the mystery is that the future is open.

Sometimes I feel disgruntled and wish that my life felt more like a managable agenda than a raucous mass of necessities and desires of varying urgency. I imagine a calm and sane balance that includes a sense of permanence and long lost things like novels, 8 hours of sleep and regular exercise. Such a life would look like this:

But then I realize that understanding of balance is just inappropriate for who I am and the life I have constructed. In my life balance is a moving target that takes into account more than my own breathing, focus and core strength as I stand alone in a tranquil spot. It is a balanced achieved in a protean landscape, capricious weather, and in the close company of others. That kind of balance looks more like this:

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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