My life in these past several years (maybe decades) has been a challenge of perpetually trying to find balance between the many things that are important to me: writing, health and fitness, my family, my friends, my solitude, and my work. It hasn’t always easy; in fact often times it isn’t easy at all. But I have carried that mantra of “balance” in my mind every day. Sometimes it is elusive and there isn’t a second of what feels like balanced life.
But in these past 24 hours, it all hung together the way it should, like a perfectly balanced mobile with hanging baubles teetering from slim sticks with invisible nylon lines. Last night, I went to my writing group. I adore this group and the way that the deck of prompt cards is shuffled, and a few words set us all off into our imaginary worlds: “Open a drawer.” “Dedicate.” I wrote and wrote, and time disappeared, and then the pleasure of hearing what had been born in a mere sixty minutes was just… joy.
This morning, I went to see my awesome trainer. I’d been feeling tight and messed up all week, maybe leftover imbalances from Sunday’s mud race. I not only got in a good workout, I got a good rolling and stretching and seriously ironing out of all the knots and stiffness. The gym was filled with people getting their workout in and looking amazing doing it. I was filled with awe and affection with this place that is my second home.
Then I went to work. I drove from Oakland to San Leandro visiting folks in their homes and helping them do stuff like get into their own bed without help, figure out how to get up and down their stairs and use a walker at the appropriate height, walk with a cane and do some advanced balance exercises. I loved every single one of them. I loved the driving around listening to my favorite music in my adorable car. Every minute of it made me feel happy, useful and integrated in the world.
After work I came home and made what I call First Date Soup (aka Moosewood’s Spinach Soup) for my family. It’s an awesome way to eat a giant pot of vegetables. It was so delicious and it always makes me feel happy and affectionate. I made this soup on the first date I ever had with my hubby, back in 1982. (Whaaa??? thirty years ago????)
After dinner we watched the movie Goodbye Lenin! which he had discovered while channel surfing a while back and really loved. As it turns out, I loved it too. It was a relaxing and wonderful way to end the week. Tomorrow, I have absolutely NOTHING on my schedule. (hooray!!!) I think I’m going to do a little reading, a little writing, a little fitness, some rest and maybe some home decluttering. On Sunday, I’ll venture back into the world to attend a health and fitness conference.
So this is what balance feels like!
I felt compelled to write all this because I was struck, all day and last night, with how absolutely happy I felt. Yesterday afternoon, I was talking with someone who felt compelled to tell me, “You are multitasking too much! You are multitasking too much!” about a dozen times. Which made me feel really defensive. I tried to say, “But I NEED all these parts of my life.” It’s true. And sometimes I do feel stressed and overwhelmed and I know I am trying to do to much. But what is multitasking? I don’t think that’s the right word, really. Multitasking is trying to do multiple things at once. I don’t actually think true multitasking is a great idea: texting while driving, or eating while watching television. But I do believe in serial unitasking, or many changing things in sequence. For me, it’s what makes me feel alive.
When I wasn’t working for a living, I was pretty unhappy. I like to feel like I’m contributing to the world, as well as to the financial health of our family. When I was primarily writing and not active or fit, I was also pretty unhappy. I was like a floating head of ideas, but very disconnected from my body. It didn’t work for me to be ONLY interested in fitness either, because not writing for long periods just filled me with despair. I need it all. I need to be social. I need solitude. I need meaningful work. I need my friends who give me such a deep sense of connection, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing connectedness in the past month. I need my family whom I love more than life. I need it all.
When that person said, “You are multitasking too much!” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought, what would I give up? What can I give up? For better or for worse, I can’t give up any of it. The many, many facets of my life are what make my life so precious and beautiful and shiny to me.
Mary Oliver asks,
Tell me, what else should I have done? / Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? / Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?
It is my one wild and precious life. I want it all.