I’ve been meaning to write for awhile now about the connections I see between permaculture and therapy (specifically couple, marriage and family therapy’s systemic perspective…but that’s another post…coming soon), and again today I find myself reiterating a permaculture perspective to a client regarding her process towards balance.
You see to strive for ‘balance’ in one’s life, is a misnomer and potentially an oxymoron. As Larry Santoyo told us in my permaculture certification course (and I’m paraphrasing a wee bit), “Life doesn’t happen in balance. When the natural world strikes a true balance, you know what it’s called? …Inertia…it’s inert…it’s dead!”.
When I first heard this I felt like the ‘balance’ of my professional perspective came into sharp focus. So many times, we humans speak about striking balance: work/life balance, parenting/self balance, health/wellness balance and in actuality it’s all a fallacy. Life does not happen in balance. In his book, “The Balance of Nature”, John Krichner talks about this phenomenon using an historical lens. He speaks at length to the idea that nature is dynamic and constantly changing and that striving for balance leaves us with limited and erroneous solutions to the modern dilemmas facing us. I would simply want to remind myself, us, my clients that we humans ARE nature and that in aiming for a balance that is ultimately unattainable, we set ourselves up for disappointment, frustration, and suffering that is without growth. We limit our opportunities to notice the natural solutions and strengths that may arise from within us.
So, contrary to what the pop-psychology mags tell you…it’s never been about aiming for balance, it’s always been about learning the skills to reduce the impact of a “feast or famine” experience of time and space which leaves us perpetually stuck in a paradigm of scarcity. Never enough. I’m not enough. Not enough time…instead when we surrender and accept the dynamic Nature of our lives (purposefully with a capital N), we can then begin to tap into or develop those coping skills that allow us to ride the dynamic and persistent waves of our lives, thereby minimizing their intensity and impact. We can begin to filter out the noise and retain the necessary. We can begin to assert our needs with kindness and loving grace. We can remain filled with the extra energy and the ability to truly give back, that is born out of such difficult and rewarding self-care.
Nope, it’s never been about striking balance. When we aim for balance we send a self-critical, unforgiving arrow straight through the big beautiful heart of our possible unconditional love of self AND other. We personalize the context, environment and cultural forces around us, leaving ourselves with blame, shame and guilt at our lack of….(fill in the blank).
Life is supposed to be dynamic! Life will continue to be an excess in one moment and a loss in another and our ability to ride the surf well through it makes all the difference. Be assured, in a life lived with authenticity, you will not save yourself from suffering. One can only hope for the growth that may result from a ride that we take of our own choosing….a ride without resistance…with a radical acceptance that life and living…truly living…is only as dynamic as we allow.
And we are all somewhere in the middle of this ride…somewhere in a dialog with authenticity and doubt…between existing and living…but certainly never in ‘balance’…
Would we really want it any other way?