by Sandra Bark
The summer before I was a born, a man named Phillippe Petit walked across a tightrope stretched between the Twin Towers, showing the world that with enough practice, human beings can learn to balance on a thread.
Three decades later, balance is a cultural buzzword. Every self-proclaimed guru, stress-reduction expert and women’s magazine is hawking directions to a place called Balance, a magical land where life is perfectly and evermore aligned. The idea of balance has become our Holy Grail, and we all want to drink from the balance chalice.
The fact is that for all of us, gurus and tightrope walkers alike, emotional and physical balance is incredibly elusive. That’s why it is especially important for us regular folk to make time for a consistent yoga practice. On the mat, one learns quickly that even if we rise in Half Moon on Monday, we might wax and wane on Tuesday. That the more often we wobble in Warrior Three and struggle for our Standing Split, the stronger we get. That balance is not something we master; it is something we continually work towards.
These are valuable lessons in a world where Balance is the new Kool-Aid.
In life, as in class, it’s simply not possible to be perfectly balanced each and every day. How can we go to work, go on vacation, volunteer for worthy organizations, take care of our families, work out, meet friends for dinner and get some sleep, all in a single 24 hour period? The answer is that we can’t. Sometimes, we have to save up and trust that the balance will equal out later.
So we make do. We work hard for a few months and then go to the beach for a week. We get our bills paid and then make it to yoga. We bathe our children and as soon as they are asleep, thank the babysitter and slip out for a glass of wine. We may seek balance daily but true balance is found over time, a complex equation that leads us to a feeling of simplicity.
Perhaps, then, balance is not about the solution but about the seeking. Not a place you get to, but a place where you are always going. A little to the left, a little to the right, and suddenly, at the supreme axis between ease and effort, just for a moment, there you are, walking through the air.
And how lucky for us that we aren’t Petit. As Steph often reminds us, we’re not at the edge of a building.
Nothing will happen to us if we fall.