I wake this morning pondering balance.
Yesterday I attended the ‘pinning’ ceremony of my friend, who has just completed the nursing program and is now officially an RN. A single mother, who undertook this arduous task while going through a divorce and working three jobs, she stood among a class of graduates who had all sacrificed to attain their goal. Repeatedly these students announced to the supportive audience, “I’m back. Life can be normal again.” So many needs (regular meals, a clean house, consistent parenting) had to be shelved in order for these nurses-to-be to earn their degree in such a demanding curriculum.
My friend has a particularly happy ending. As I put a lei around her neck and hugged her (having imagined this moment over the years as I’ve encouraged her along) she flashed a new engagement ring. Her very supportive boyfriend popped the question a few days ago and will be whisking her off to San Francisco for nine days to mark the closing of one chapter and beginning of a new one. I know there were times in the past when on her journey she may only have seen a dark tunnel. In those shadow times I think she and I both agreed that only Aretha Franklin and a good laugh with a girlfriend could shed any semblance of light. But her hard work and determination – an eye to the prize – has paid off and given her more than, perhaps, she even could have imagined.
After the ceremony, at day’s end, I have a quiet house to myself. Jeb is with his father. I finish work projects and then do something I haven’t done in months – I watch a movie. The title, “One Week.” The plot revolves around a man who’s told he has an aggressive form of cancer, with only a short time to live. He instantly sees his life (including his impending marriage) in a new perspective. Dropping everything, he buys a motorcycle and proceeds to head west across Canada to touch the Pacific Ocean. On his adventure, he embraces each moment, gaining new insights, making fresh connections and living with no thought to future plans.
The film explores the question of how all of us are living. It prods the viewer to consider what each of us may be doing if we knew we only had one year, one month, one week, one day to live. (Funny, I initially made a typo on that last word, “live” and typed “love” – perhaps a clue…).
Is there a balance between keeping our vision on a fixed goal in the distant future and living true to our hearts in this very moment? Is sometimes it necessary to disregard our very nature, our basic needs (and those of others), in order to obtain the goal that promises to make everything better once we get there?
As I wake with these questions, I find myself finally watching the Ted Talk sent to me by my yoga instructor last week. The premise: Hammock Enlightenment. Eion Finn talks about the “conquest” orientation of our world and how it has shaped the way we connect with ourselves, each other, and nature. He has an idea of how we can bring a balance from busy to stillness. His concept is simple, the message heartfelt. Somehow his talk seems woven with my morning ponderings.
A hammock hangs between two poles (here on the island it’s often two trees). Maybe the balance is the hang spot between two extremes: always working toward the future or never thinking of tomorrow. In the hammock, you take a breather, a good, solid pause. Can a pause actually propel us forward?
I’m a lover of the pause button, but it can often seem nearly impossible to employ it. With a full month of dedication to my yoga practice, one could say I’ve been taking time in a proverbial hammock almost every day. In this moment, I’m about to head out the door to dive into a yoga that stills through movement. Perhaps more insight will come through one of those asanas.
For now, I’ll leave you with the Ted Talk for your own meditation. Namaste.