I inexplicably dropped out of the blogosphere this week. Apparently, it only takes 5 days to destroy a habit of writing and exercise and you know, getting dressed for life. I’m constantly juggling priorities and this week I just lay down on the floor and let them pummel the hell out of me. Entropy has settled in and for any consistent reader of this blog, it’s obviously a constant battle to pull myself out of it.
Enthalpy is the sum of energy in a thermodynamic process. It is described as useful energy. My scientist friends will have to forgive me my liberal education, as I inexpertly adopt this for a metaphor. A change in enthalpy signals a change in one’s state of being. And I need a truckload of it now.
I frequently hit a point where I’ve given into the chaos of life and am just riding it out. I have no sense of control – just letting life happen until I end up very tired, extremely depressed or feeling like I’m having an out-of-body experience in my daily life. Like most people, I have a lot of external responsibilities, so it becomes very easy to neglect my inner life.
I’ve read all the self-care articles. I know that I’m supposed to put my own oxygen mask on before I put it on others, but it doesn’t come naturally. I’m not some self-sacrificing prig, but I believe in doing what needs to be done. It’s my radar readings that are off – what constitutes need? Did I need to take my bosses’ call on Friday night at 5:05pm? Does my daughter really need to have PB & J sandwiches with the crusts cut off? Do I really need to answer phone calls, emails or texts right away?
I grew up the oldest of four kids. Like the stereotypical first born, I was responsible, take charge and a problem solver. On top of that, I learned to read people. It was necessary in a household with alcoholism and domestic violence, to sense a shift in the wind, to understand what the buttons were, to know when to take cover.
In many ways, this skill benefited me in accurately navigating the world as an adult. The downside is that I have this childlike sense that I know more than I do. I have often attributed need where there is none and taken even the slightest negative emotion as a cry for me, Super Problem Solver, to swoosh in and save the day. People have been startled by my generosity, not realizing that expression of even the most trivial needs will have me bringing in the troops.
This last week, I wanted to solve problems for a lot of people, but part of me knew that I needed to tap out, cry “uncle” or handcuff myself to a fence in passive resistance. What I did, instead, was go through the motions. I did work that needed to be done, all the while thinking dully :”‘When this is over, I’m going to do XYZ…”
Last September, I made the enthusiastic announcement that I was leaving a job of 12 years to dedicate my time to writing. That morphed into a six-month delay in conjunction with the company’s fiscal year, so I’m still in transition. I promised myself that I’d scale back a bit on volunteering, only to find myself sitting for 2 hours straight, doing nothing but feeling slightly resentful at a school event this week.
Entropy got me here, to this state of disordered chaos, but my holy grail is balance. It’s an unending, constantly shifting quest. I wonder, at times, that my expectations are unrealistic. I imagine balance to be this serene, meditative handling of life’s daily trials and tribulations. Maybe balance is more like being adept at juggling on a unicycle, constantly in motion, shifting this way or that, sometimes frantically, sometimes rhythmically. Is balance a Buddhist nuns’ retreat or a circus?
What does balance look like to you?