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Balancing On Top Of The World

2 April 2009 No Comment

Often I catch myself saying that I’d like more balance in my life.

A bit more of this, a bit less of that.

Sometimes I want to be more rooted and not so much moving from place to place. At other times I look for more time for writing and not so much wasted time. Or I could do with more fee earning work and less time invested in developing a peaceful future.

Of course, in other periods all these are turned exactly in the opposite direction.

There always seems to be some aspect of my life where I’m striving for balance.

I saw ‘Man On Wire’ the other evening.

For those who don’t know, it’s a wonderful documentary about a Frenchman, Philippe Petit. He’s the guy in the picture above, who, in 1974 walked across a high-wire strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. If you doubt the picture to be authentic, just check out those awesome flares!  Only an insanely passionate person would even consider tightrope walking between the towers in those trousers!

Watching this film I realised I’ve been missing the point about balance!

To balance

Balance is not something I achieve but something I do.

Life is dynamic, it moves, it flows and when I balance (verb) I apply some control over that movement through life.

I can never reach a ‘balance’ as that implies no movement, no dynamism – no life.

The high-wire walker is always ‘off balance’.

His art and his skill is constantly to sense when he’s moved away from his centre of gravity and with small flexes of his muscles adjust his position. With those fine adjustments he’s always moving slightly from one side to the other. Over and over he repeats these sideways adjustments as he slowly, but surely moves forward.

He’s never stable but always ‘off-balance’. He knows that if he moves too far away from the centre he risks being unable to bring himself back. And that means certain death.

The high wire of life

Isn’t life similar to walking a high-wire?

We choose the rope we walk and how risky we want to live by the height of the rope and the conditions.

After our initial first steps on the wire we move inexorably forward from birth to death.

We may change speed, we may rest a while, but we will always get to the other side.

As we move forward, we notice when we’ve moved away from our path and we adjust and realign ourselves.

We live with the risk that we fail to sense when we’re off track. Maybe that happens when we’re so focussed on controlling the forward movement we forget  the sideways move. Or maybe it happens when we look down and take attention away from our own path. Or perhaps we lose our footing because we lose concentration, get tired or bored.

Fortunately, falling off the high-wire of life is rarely fatal, but a chance to check if we’re on the right path before we get back on again.

* Before anyone accuses me of ’sexism’ … I fully appreciate that it’s equally possible that the high-wire walker might be female. Really I do! Philippe is a guy, though, and for purposes of writing style I chose to stay with that. The next time I use a high-wire walker as an example I’ll be sure to refer to her as female. I promise! Ok?

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