Life is a Balancing Act


It’s one of my loftiest goals. It is also one I have to work at constantly to achieve.

I’m all about the yin-yang thing. But I’m also talking about “equal parts balance.” Equal parts play and work. Equal parts outside and inside. Equal parts quiet and noise.

A few weeks ago I noticed my son’s Google tracks on the search line of my computer. He had typed in “colleges that teach only health.” Balance apparently is not huge in the mind of a ten year old. They like what they like and want more of that, whatever that is. Take food, for example. We feed him from 3:00 until bedtime, but have to force feed him breakfast. And right now, he’s stuck on Kent’s patties. Last year it was seaweed.

My daughter is twice his age though, and had spent at least a few months at liberal arts college when she took the above photo. In that time, she seemed to have recognize the value of balance in her own life. I used this rock while meditating, gripping it relentlessly in hopes that balance would drip out of it and into my being.

This is not my default setting. My default setting is to move hog-wild toward whatever interests me and not let anything stand in my way. Take gardening. I went through this gardening phase where I would spend countless hours in the garden, planting, weeding, picking and pruning–everything else paused. I’d dream about bulbs and read gardening manuals in bed. I knew every sale at every garden store in town, the Latin and English name of all the plants and became very selective about composting.

Now I’m not saying gardening is a problem. It’s great. The point is in life’s garden, there are a variety of things to enjoy and variety is the key. That’s what makes it a garden. That’s what gives it its beauty.

So from time to time I need to look around and ask myself if things are in balance. And if they are not, I need to get them there.

Am I the pigeon lady?

It’s official. I’m turning into the pigeon lady.

Down in LA the type of things that got me excited were a good class at “The Path” and no traffic on the 405 (right—like that ever happened.)

So when my birthday rolled around and my mom got me a finch sock, I was a little puzzled. What was I supposed to do with this exactly? Feed the birds?

Fair enough. I could see the value in helping the country wildlife. So I hung up the sock and waited for my feathered friends to find it.

When they came, I was fairly entertained. The finches were bright yellow and tiny and fun to watch. They ate lots, too, so I found myself at Wal-Mart shortly after hanging the sock in search of finch food. When I found the 20 pound bag (I had a lot of finches showing up) it was thirty bucks. “I’m not paying thirty bucks for bird food that grows naturally,” I told my mom in a grand protest.

We searched for discount finch food and finally found some at—guess where—the tractor store…obviously. Only one thing: these finches prefer designer thistle to the discount thistle. Some came, but not as many, and, well, I missed them.

Mom and I were discussing Mother’s Day gifts and I jokingly said, “I could get you some designer finch food!” Well, her eyes lit up the stadium lights at the high school football game!

Who was I to disappoint? So back to Wal-Mart for finch food. (I know. I live a fast life.) When I got to the finch food aisle I saw these way cool finch condo things with not one but two socks and an easy loading mechanism. Feeling crazy, I just bought two along with two bags of food. (I had the same feeling I have when leaving Nordstrom’s after their half-annual women and children’s sale, which sadly I think I will be missing this year.)

I got home, hung the condo closer to the kitchen window so I could see, but the birds weren’t coming. Should I make a sign? Perhaps a trail of seed from one feeder to the next? What the hell was happening to me? Would I start asking forest creatures to sew me a dress while I hummed a tune?

Well, today, I walked into the kitchen and just started laughing. My finch condo was covered with about 30 bright-yellow little beauties. The joy I felt watching this scene surprised me. Maybe, I thought, the joy we find in the simple things is the purest joy around. Either that or I’m turning into the pigeon lady. If you see me scattering seed in a local park wearing a floppy hat, somebody stop me.