Much ado about balance…

People often refer to “balance” in life or in work as if it was something pre-determined and concrete; a line-in-the-sand or a clearly defined goal that once reached, would produce such imagined “balanced” state of well-being.

The problem I have with this is that to me, the concept of “balance” isn’t fixed; rather, it is an ever changing “living” component of our individual lives whose definition is as diverse as we humans are and thus, any discourse about this “balance” – like with art –really is a highly subjective matter.

Who is to say that someone’s hectic and seemingly exhausting life isn’t really perfectly balanced… for them? Or that someone else’s highly organized seemingly moderated and diverse lifestyle isn’t really a nightmare of control and blandness to be avoided at all cost… for others?

In the past few years as “work-life balance” vision, objectives and words found their way into corporate statements and our own wistful vernacular, I have come to consider such as “unbalanced”; superficial “flannel”, which does little more than add noise and possible dissent into our corporate and private lives.

It is a relatively modern trend to view “work” as something singular and different from an individual’s “life”, but I’m reminded and offer that there should not be such a clear distinction between the two; that they are in-fact interdependent, each an integral part of the other and each – at times – requiring that more focus be given to one over the other.

For I can’t imagine living possible; in balanced ways or otherwise, without actually working at producing something in real-time; be it the pollen a flower produces for dissemination by bees and wind, to everyday necessities we acquire by the application and exchange of our life skills, to the contribution we make as we guide our babies to hopefully grow into the “next generation” of productive people.

All subject to daily external influences which impact and alter our lives and how we may have to modify our reactions to engage and deal with such influences moment by moment.

The idea that these and all other evergreen “productive life” components which together contribute to an overall life-on-the-planet balance of sorts, should each have and follow some form of prescribed self-balance – even if we could actually come to agree on what that “balance” should be for us as a species – is flawed and unreachable me thinks.

Have we – in our relative affluence – grown softer and more demanding of what is “due to us”?

Do airline pilots, typically regulated to fly about 40 hours per month, have more “balance” in their lives than the average Western individual working 60 hours per week… or a person working 18+ hours per day in an Asian factory? Which amount of work vs. “work-free” time, and/or “level” of balance within ourselves should we be striving for?

What about our poorer and distant neighbors… the folk elsewhere in Africa and India for example, scouring nearly around the clock for the means of basic survival such as finding relative safety, drinkable water and food of any kind that we, with our self-induced complicated lives, take for granted as a basic given? Do they need or even think about “work-life balance”… or is having the gift of actually waking-up breathing yet another day, hopeful of being able to make it all the way through to the evening with – perchance – some improvement, balance enough?

Perhaps our search for “balance” is a distracting cause; the wrong value to use when assessing ways to enhance our human existence holistically and in a sustainable productive manner. For all of us still breathing – in all of our wondrous diversity – manages to achieve our own reality based version of a “balanced life” if not on a daily basis, certainly over a period of time.

Remarkably, I believe our existential needs remain largely unchanged over the thousands of years our animal species has been around… regardless of gender and varying levels of modern day complexity, we are basically a “caves & commons” species; requiring security and solitude for self-reflection, healing and survival, as well as, communal engagement and interaction to give & take, lead & support, fight & love, reproduce & evolve to live another day.

The fact we may believe this ought to happen more gracefully or in a more even manner, albeit interesting, does not determine the overall worthiness; the blended achievement occurring in our current everyday lives… as “imperfect” as we may think such to be.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Much Ado About Balance

On Age and Usefulness…

Beyond Stereotypes

Social demographic studies show – for all of the improvements and advances achieved over time and still evolving within “developed economies” – that society’s focus (value perception, investment, etc.) continues to be on what generally is perceived to be the most active and productive segments of populations.

A graphic representation of this would be similar to a classic bell-curve where; the Y axis=productivity and the X axis=age demographics map such “active and productive” focus at the upper mid-third of the chart.

In short, both EARLY developmental and LATE experiential rich societal stages receive peripheral attention and such, mostly to help “feed or compensate” for variations within the hi-productivity stages… We’re under-estimating /preparing our youth for global competitive challenges, under-supporting /over-stressing those within the hi-productivity cycle, and under-valuing the contribution of those on the downward slope.

Plainly, the “developed world” has done a mediocre job at preparing, supporting and valuing its population’s contribution holistically… However, this isn’t surprising in-light of the economic and cultural complexities and pressures at-play within such “developed world” and the general morose (the belief that things are the way they are and will always remain so) of those most affected by such imbalance. Nevertheless, this focus isn’t efficient or sustainable as the “effective distance” between economic needs /demands (productivity) and established population usefulness-cycles continues to diametrically polarize and grow.

As I see it, it is myopic to not fully support and tap into the early innovative / late experiential rich potential that is fueled by the power of the human spirit and growing from population’s exposure to wider educational accessibility, ubiquitous information technology and life-sciences efforts that effectively are driving a rise in “quality longevity”…

Image via Wikipedia

Blue=Developed - Tan=Emerging - Red=Underdeveloped

Thankfully, this is beginning to happen and several efforts are now underway within developed economies currently experiencing “insufficient new talent-pools & rising productivity pressures”, aiming to improve such educational inefficiencies and counter-productive displacement (retirement) policies, which in-time should ease the slope (as a more gradual curve) into and from the hi-productivity segment of population life-cycles, but these efforts; which carry yet not fully understood /vetted financial consequences and benefits, cannot succeed without the desire, awareness and the inclusion of productive “voices” from those of us within either end of the current productivity scale to the discussion.

As intelligent humans, we must be less accepting of default stereotyping and instead; truly WANT, DESIRE and DRIVE CHANGE… first within ourselves, then within society as in; developing and assuring wide access to comprehensive/innovative educational curriculums and meaningful productivity options whilst committing the time and ourselves to really engage whilst continually learning and contributing. As well as, shed our all too common malaise… prejudices and “been there done that” experiential staidness that subconsciously keep us from remaining actively engaged, curious and collaborative… looping back often to guide, mentor and facilitate those in the earlier two productive stages even if it isn’t mainstream or “cool” to do so.

To be successful and lasting, Big, Bold Shifts; insofar as “age”, “productivity” and “usefulness” stereotyping must begin first within each of us thus, exemplifying and leading the way to a more efficient, valuable and balanced alternative.

This I believe…

Am I important…?

I wake-up most mornings; at times excited, but mostly curious about the day ahead.

I have a cup of coffee whilst scanning the paper, exercise, take a deep breath when I browse the email that arrived overnight, get dressed for another day at work or play and eat breakfast.

I go outside, greet the people I know and sometimes along the way – when all is at-peace with my world – I share a smile or a nod or a “g’morning” with folks that are complete strangers.

The world is real, exists and supports me every single day through my eyes… it is my perception of how bright the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars are, my interpretation if it is as hot or cold as the weather person claims… my determination of someone as beautiful or brilliant or good, or friendly, or not.

It is my choice to love or hate, to care or be indifferent, to aim for quality over mediocrity… about everything that crosses the path as seen through my eyes; interpreted through my mind and spirit. And… I make these choices many times in a day; sometimes deliberately but most often instinctively.

I am the “connector”, the natural end-result of the symbiotic relationship between Creator and Creation; brought about with purpose by the will of a spirited and awesome God and the choices of countless men, women, children, fauna and flora that have held, befriended, nurtured, taught and loved me along my way.

All the World Is A Stage

acting ones dream

I have the ability to learn, adapt, interact, love, procreate and survive… yet, as informed by all as I am, I can not be someone other than what I choose to be. I can not truly see and interact with the world in any other way than through my own eyes, mind and spirit.

I am responsible for all that I see, say and do. I matter to myself and to all that I interact with and touch… I am purpose built.

Thus, I am important.

NOTEWORTHY – with a few personal/belief substitutions here and there, I believe this is the basic “script” WE ALL – individually – follow; each a principal player acting it out in this world’s stage.

And so it follows that we all are valuable and important individually to this greater play we call “life”… wherein we all lose a little by the marginalizing or demise of a single one of us.

This I believe

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