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May 10, 2016

Why I’m Ditching Balance in the Name of Joy.

Flickr/K. Kendall

Yesterday I was over the moon with whimsy and wonder at this magical life.

It was one of those days when stars were aligning, front-row parking spots were open at every turn, and the whole world looked like a never-ending free minibar. Life was good, and I felt like the poster child for the ever-elusive balance.

Balance between me-time and mom-time. Balance between sipping green juice and indulging in cheesy pizza. Balance between moving my body through a yoga flow and then parking it on the couch in front of HGTV. For a hot minute there, I was pretty in love with myself and all my fabulous choices in the name of both restraint and indulgence.

But—just like that—a new day dawned, and I found myself hiking back through the weeds. Suddenly I was sobbing big ugly tears in the Target parking lot for no good reason. I was internally battling myself all afternoon about how to both nurture and discipline this headstrong child of mine. And I was thrashing myself with not nice self-talk about my body and the shape it has taken in the last year.

The joy from yesterday was still there, but it was like she had found a little corner to hang out in while I hashed out some serious sh*t with myself. She’s so polite like that, Joy. She just takes two little steps to the left and lets you totally forget she was ever there.

And what it keeps coming back to for me is this ever-elusive balancing act between desire and contentment. What is the secret formula of being crazy in love with life, just as it is today, and yet longing for more? More peace. More health. More acceptance.

How can we be like perfect little Buddhas sitting obligingly still under the Bodhi tree and still be shining stars ever-expanding into more, more, more?

I’m serious—I’m stumped. How can I look around me when the dust is all kicked up, and just gleefully spin in circles as if it were really confetti?

Intellectually I sit here and tell myself all the practical, checklist kinds of ways we do it. But that’s because I’m not crying big ugly tears anymore. And because the energy of stress that leveled me today has mostly passed.

But I know tomorrow, when the big emotions swell again, I’m going to be thinking, “Dammit, why didn’t I figure that out last night?!”

Here’s what I know: Life only ever happens in the moment. And it’s our feeling of some separation or disconnect from a better (nonexistent) moment that causes us pain.

But how do we not resist in those moments when things feel all jumbled and unsafe and impossible and hopeless?

How do we just sink into all that pain and say, “Oh hey! Welcome! Come on in! Let’s get all splotchy and red-faced and cry our brains out together! Woo hoo!”

I must have coached myself and my friends on this a thousand times, and sometimes it feels like groundhog day in my own mind. Like I’m going to have to erase the blackboard and write that whole. damn. equation. all. over. again.

The mess is the masterpiece.

I keep hearing that. A good friend of mine used to say that all the time, and when it comes to the illusion of balance, it feels like truth.

Humanity is the point—and being human isn’t about being blissed out all the time. It’s about contrast.

And contrast kind of sucks sometimes.

It rolls me over on the regular usually in the midst of a full-on balance-battling frenzy. But then I feel my breath—and I tell myself that it’s all going to be okay—and I just keep on crying.

The magic doesn’t come when we force ourselves back into the feel-good—it comes when we allow the experience we’re having right now to be enough. We sink into the moment and allow the grace to flow.

I realize that maybe the balance between contentment and desire is completely abandoning this idea of an efforted act of balance in the first place. Because balance feels like a whole lot of work. Like you have to stand there with arms outstretched between two heavy pails of water trying to keep each side on the up and up, when all you really want to do is drop the water and crack a beer.

The whole idea of having to maintain balance means there is always going to be some other force out there that is continuously trying to throw us off that balance. But what if we just surrender to the back and forth and trust the scales to always balance themselves eventually? We’d save a lot of heartache and needless work and worry, right?

I’m going with that version—to hell with balance. Let’s be content when we’re content, and desire when we desire. Let’s remind ourselves again and again that regardless of the contentment or the desire, we are worthy, we are loved and we are safe.

And then let’s invite Joy over for a beer.

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Author: Kayla Floyd

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/K. Kendall

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