Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Balance

Lately my thoughts have been wrapped so tightly around some incredibly deep philosophical notions. I think that is apparent in my last few posts. I grapple with these bouts of deep thought. Each time I find myself sinking into rumination, I realize that the people closest to me seem to shrink away...or maybe it's just that I go off to a very isolated "place" and that creates a seemingly great distance. It also makes me feel less whole.

I consider myself a pretty constant person as far as character and personality go. But I really have come to feel acutely aware of the imbalances I possess where habit is concerned. I have phases. When I start to muse on philosophical things, I often let myself really fall into these musings, to the point that I become utterly consumed. And that will last for a stretch. There is nothing particularly negative about this but after awhile, these thoughts become so heavy and I collapse underneath them. And this isn't true with just my bouts of rumination. it is true with anything I consume myself with for a stretch of time.

I never really considered myself an all-or-nothing kind of person but I realize that tendency in the things I take on in life. For a stretch, I put myself fully into work and neglect reading, time with family, relaxation, etc. Then I get burned out on work and immerse myself in reading and contemplation. Then I get burned out and put myself fully into family and friends.

Transitions in my life as of late have really pulled this behavioral pattern to the forefront of my consciousness. So many transitions in life make me wonder who I am and what I'm doing with my life. But lately, I feel that the "bumps" in the road have more to do with my behavioral pattern than they do with me as a person. I see the good in life, I find it perfect. I believe in the good of every other human being, of nature. And I also see the good in myself more than ever. I know I'm a good woman with a passionate outlook on life, a willingness to fully inspire and be inspired by others. And don't get me wrong, I am such a work in progress and I will be till the day I die. That's what we all are. So, there is still plenty to learn about myself and grow from.

But I can't help but feel that at this time, it is more about striking a healthy balance in my life. Each time I become consumed with a project/direction, I neglect those other things that are important to me. So I end up bouncing from one to the next and back, and not one alone sustains my well-being. I don't think this is too far off from what I've been discussing philosophically as of late. No woman/man is an island. That is a great lesson for someone like myself who can isolate so easily. But similarly, each human being has a gift of unique perception and character for a reason.

I am an individual and I am a member of humanity. Those two are inextricably linked. So, how does it make sense that I should isolate myself for stretches with my own thoughts and then conversely, give myself fully to others without giving myself much thought?

So, I'm really working on striking a true balance at this point in my life. I'm someone with VERY varied interests. I love watching Simon Schama's Power of Art on PBS/BBC but I also love spending saturday autumn afternoons in bed watching college football. I love philosophy and literature. I also love being incredibly silly and am laid back. I guess these interests have seemed to be at odds with each other too long in my life. It is time to create harmony amongst them.

I will always be the girl who wants to talk about philosophy and then go to a football game. I will always smile at every human being, regardless of who they are and how they treat me. I will always be a dreamer, an idealist. I will always get ridiculously goofy with my sisters and niece, and I'll always be full of deep thoughts. I will always be enamored by the moon and sky. I will always challenge people to let go of judgment but I'll still love them when they struggle to do so. I'll give myself more fully to humanitarian causes but I'll simultaneously nurture my passions.

It doesn't have to be one or the other. I'm not one interest of mine or another. I'm the embodiment of many interests and principles. We all are complex individuals. No wonder relationships are rather challenging. We are so very dynamic, not static. We're on a constant journey and we are thus, ever-evolving. I've been so fortunate to have so many wonderful people pop up in my life on this journey. Sadly, with many, our individual journeys have required us to part ways. But I take each lesson and person forward with me. I am a better person for what I've experienced and the people with whom my path has crossed.

My past makes me a better person now. I'm still me and always will be. I'm just done neglecting myself as a whole. I'm excited to see where this takes me. And I look forward to living more wholly from this day forward.

10 comments:

Alf said...

I've found that my greatest accomplishment in life, despite all the awesome things I've done and all the great things I plan to do, is be happy with myself.

b said...

alf...absolutely. that is indeed a great accomplishment. i believe i'm "there" too and it feels wonderful. of course, there is always the opportunity to go beyond accepting and being happy with who we are...fully living out who we are. and i don't think that necessarily reveals dissatisfaction or uneasiness. i'm happy with who i am but now i want to get out there and fully live my life with that awareness and happiness of self behind the driver's wheel. most of my 20s were spent with imposed expectations and a false sense of self behind that wheel and i (figuratively and literally) was quite lost.

thanks for stopping by my blog. i was really thrilled to read about you and your girlfriend's shared enthusiasm for simon schama's power of art. the episode on jacques-louis david really got me!

carra said...

B, this post was probably one of the best you wrote since I started reading your blog, as I am completely short of words. You are perfect just the way you are, and if all you need is just a little bit more "be happy with myself" drive I know you'll find it, along with the other things you found within yourself in the past year. I am very proud of you, I feel priviledged to be your friend. You will live your life fully, you are already doing that. Remember the last year, remember how it felt making your dream come true. Wasn't that living your life fully?

Run Around Paris said...

Wow, what a mission statement! A lot of what you said struck a chord with me as well. It's always comforting to know there's someone else out there struggling or celebrating the same feelings/notions/things you are.

b said...

carra...thank you so much for your continued support. all that you say in your comment is greatly appreciated and i am humbled by it. i particularly appreciate your faith in me. i did make my dream of going to paris a reality in the last year and i feel that is only the start of making things happen in my life. thank you so much for your friendship.

run around paris...i appreciate that you feel a connection with what i express in this post. sometimes i feel that these thoughts detach me from others because i am not consciously aware that other people are struggling with much the same issues. the fact alone is very comforting, isn't it? thanks so much for that.

Richard said...

breal wrote: I consider myself a pretty constant person as far as character and personality go

Believe it or not, people are actually quite constant and consistent with themselves. As we grow older, we become more like ourselves. I have yet to see someone change.

Some people are not happy with who they are and thus arises dissonance. But, if people are honest with themselves, they will see that they are always the same. I notice it with my friends. Friends I have known for 30+ years are still the same person they were when I met them. There are always superficial changes and refinements, but the core remains the same.

This is also easy to see when blogging. If you hang around a blog long enough, themes and patterns start to emerge. People just repeat the same things or same types of things over and over again. I was going over some archived e-mail (going back 10 years) with a friend of mine and noticed that she has many of the same issues today, that she had 10 years ago (and, I am no different). Another friend's e-mail can be broadly generalize as concerning either The Prisoner or Secret Agent, or complaining about Christianity (as if it is all my fault) (sometimes he will try to hold me accountable for other religions).

I hope I will change, I want to move from being a dreamer to being a doer. I seem to recall that I was more of a doer when I was younger, but I was also deferential to others (which I think was a mistake). I definitely think I was lied to when I was told that once I got a job, I would have more free time (and money) to pursue my interests.

It often seems that the world is not made for people like us. The world seems to prefer people who are content to toil away at their one thing. (I find it shocking how many people I encounter who are quite content just doing what they are doing, with no thought of doing more.) Then there are those who are motivated by money, but with not necessarily concerned about actually doing anything. In some ways, these people are enviable because they use work and money as a tool to further their indulgences. And then, there are people like us (and maybe I am taking liberties lumping you in with me), who actually want to have meaning in what we do. Who do not want to compartmentalize their life between drudgery and indulgence. Life is to be lived and to be indulged in fully.

b said...

richard...i certainly believe that we have a core self and that yes, we are naturally compelled to act according to that core self. but i think that core self is inherently good/positive. it is when we attempt to resist or act out against it that we become unhappy and dissonant. and certainly, experiences and influences throughout life often cloud that core self so much so that we don't recognize it at all.

of course, remaining true to your core self is very simple and very hard at the same time. if society were nurturing, accepting, and embraced each individual's true self, it would be wonderful. but we are taught at an early age very specific ideologies and expectations. yes, those who by nature are more aggressive and action-oriented but in an obedient to the status quo kind of way, will likely find success and acceptance more easily. but that doesn't mean they will find fulfillment.

my father is highly action-oriented. he is a hard worker, aggressive, takes initiative, etc. he was very successful at work. but he is so miserable now that he is older and retired. he doesn't have a sense of self, he isn't happy with anything. he has no hobbies, no interests. the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

i think the key is to find and embrace your true self first and then make strides to find a balance that is reasonably desireable and suitable for you to participate in this world. but i think we have to start with that core self, the foundation of who we are. i've fought it for too long and i'm done. i don't want to live my life trying to be someone i am not. i am a dreamer. and i'll find a comfortable place for myself in this world, regardless of whether i'm "esteemed" by society.

i like this quote from J. Sheridan Le Fanu (from Uncle Silas:

"The world," he resumed after a short pause, "has no faith in any man's conversion; it never forgets what he was, it never believes him anything better, it is an inexorable and stupid judge."

i think this notion, this seeming lack of faith regarding change, alone prevents most people from changing. and of course people can change. but there is no use trying to change that core self. however, there are MANY choices and behaviors that we can alter...and most of those are habits of experience, not nature. and most of the time, i would venture to say that we confuse the two.

i absolutely agree that life is to be lived and to be indulged in fully. and yes, finding meaning is absolutely necessary to my life. if that makes us "strange" or seemingly unfit for this world, let those robots believe as much. their opinion doesn't matter to me. of course dreamers are often made out to be outcasts. we have ideas and passions that would take power away from those who rule, we wouldn't consume as much and thus, spend as much, buy into their ideologies, esteem money and materialism, and resign ourselves to perpetuating the cycle.

Richard said...

That's what I like about meeting bloggers - finding people who believe in the fundamental goodness of man.

However, persistant sub-optimal societal behaviour, attitudes, mores must somehow be accounted for. Golden Ages and Golden Societies exist only in distorted Historical accounting.

I still fundamentally believe in teh goodness of man, I just don't nderstand why people choose to act contrary to it.

b said...

richard...it is nice to connect with others who believe in that fundamental goodness.

i think that notion of a golden age or society is so distorted. if, as a society, we highly valued humanity and were happy with what we have, respected differences but fundamentally believed in the commonness of man...it would be a golden society indeed. and that only requires our consent. nothing more.

although we can't make everyone "see" this and despite those who act contrary to goodness...as individuals we can consciously choose to believe in that goodness and act accordingly. in doing such as individuals, this life of ours can truly be a golden age in a golden society. and the ripple effect will undoubtedly spread.

Richard said...

That is what I believe, that somehow I manage to make a difference. On the other hand, if you have ever played Conway's game of Life (a computer simulation), it shows you that isolated organisms die.