Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 129: May 2010)
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Techniques for Balance
It's spring here, and I love spring. Everything is blooming, returning, triumphant in resilience. The hostas around the pool which disappear in the winter, looking as though they've been obliterated, return first with tentative shoots and then full-blown verdancy. Bare trees suddenly acquire attire.
After snows (and, this year, floods), insects, vermin, and human discharge, spring regenerates the countryside.
I'm enamored with metaphors, and this time of year (in this hemisphere, at least) creates an irresistible tropism for change, renewal, and reinvention. In our case the "winter" has been tough economics, natural disasters, and political dissent. But clients come and go, disasters abate, and politics is an old game.
Perhaps we all need to be more seasonal, willing to prompt our own revival and our own new growth. What are you doing to avoid the repeat of the regular recital of the normal? What are your triggers of reinvention and new tests?
What would you like to accomplish, or at least initiate, in the two months before summer? Do you need to fix up the house, buy a new car, create a new job, patch up a relationship, enroll in a course or join a group? What would it take for you to feel renewed?
Nature has a mechanism for prompting the earth to respond. We can recognize it easily, so why not accept that same prompt to form our own new response? Consider it nature's viaticum, sustenance for our journey.
The hostas reappear from nothing. We're already on the surface moving about.
The human condition: The waiting game
Recently I published a podcast on Alan's Blog (www.contrarianconsulting.com) about the story of Diane, who had remained married for nearly 30 years just to please others. (You can listen to it here if you wish: http://tinyurl.com/y5xy47d). Today my wife told me of two children who wanted to throw a 50th Anniversary party for their parents, but the mother refused, saying, "I've hated this marriage for a long, long time, and I'm not about to celebrate its existence." When her kids persisted, she realized that it was a manageable problem, and she obtained a divorce.
Too many people play a waiting game with unpleasantness of all types. A loveless marriage is simply one of the most dramatic. But whether it's rude relatives, a tyrannical boss, an intrusive neighbor, an annoying habit, or a meaningless ritual, why do we believe that time will provide a magic answer? Time will usually do exactly the opposite: In it majestic passivity, it will exacerbate the unhappiness and irritate the wound.
People tend to engage in divigation when (rarely) confronted about their lassitude over these matters. At first I thought it was some kind of self-imposed penance, an inertia that serves as an atonement. Then I thought it was rationalization and guilt that perpetuated so many impediments to an emotionally-healthy life.
But I've come to think it's really a dysfunctional hope, a profound grief about the time that's been lost coupled with a cosmic long shot that the situation will reverse by itself—or from the fates—and all of that invested time will suddenly produce a return. It's like people who engage in inefficient business practices but refuse to change, because acknowledging that they've wasted time and money for all these years is too self-damaging.
However, the point is that there are many more years ahead. That woman married for 50 years who had finally had it realized that there was still time. There was no preterition involved, only her own volition.
"Patience is a virtue," and "all things come to those who wait." Not necessarily. "There's no time like the present." We certainly have a responsibility to others, but not to the extent that one person undermines your ability to help yourself and therefore many others.
Whether a relationship, a job, or a commitment of some kind, examine your own needs, your past investment, and your future.
What are you waiting for?
While we were eating at the bar of one of our favorite restaurants, a very attractive waitress stopped over to give me a big hello. I realized she probably didn't notice my wife sitting next to me in the crowd. I nudged my wife so that she would realize just how much of a "catch" she was married to.
Without looking up, and somewhat embarrassed, the waitress said, "How is that great looking son of yours? I haven't seen him for quite a while."
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