I used my Sunday Very Personal Ad to launch a week of careful inquiry and focused learning about this thing called balance:
What is it?
How do I get more of it?
True to my word, I’ve been using lots of Shiva Nata, inventing rituals to focus my thinking and protect my space, and using lots of questions to guide my journaling and delve deeper into this thing that I desperately need and yet don’t fully understand.
Today is Day Two of the Balance Expedition and I’m still figuring things out, but I’ve learned a lot so far! Havi wrote about Side Effects today, as a complete coincidence, and it’s so true: I thought I was just going to think about Balance, but as a side-effect I’ve managed to deal with other stuff that I thought was completely unrelated.
In fact, three things have happened:
- I healed a very sad monster;
- I learned how to connect two different pieces of balance; and
- I learned something about the culture of snakes.
Even though only one of them is nominally connected to balance, all three are important. So here are my three things!
The Saddest Monster
Background: The Dilemma Troll showed up last week when I was trying to have a good day. She likes to pose hard questions, make contradictory demands, and generally confuse me. Her big issue is that she wants me to live full-time in Bolivia (go read that post otherwise this will be really confusing!) and not just commute there because my job takes me out of the country. Well, this time when she showed up, instead of making her usual sour judge-y faces at me, she just looked really, really sad.
Me: Aw, Dilemma. I’ve never seen you look so sad before.
Saddest Monster: That’s because you don’t know that I know the real reason why you can’t live in Bolivia full-time.
Me: Okay, I’ll bite…what’s the real reason?
Saddest Monster: You’re not capable of doing it because you’d go insane.
Me: Really? This is very interesting, because it reminds me of exactly why I thought I couldn’t move to Bolivia in the first place. And yet I did…
Saddest Monster: (looks stricken) Wait…you’re not supposed to know that…
Me: Hang on, I knew you looked awfully familiar. You’re the Customs and Immigration Troll too, aren’t you?
Saddest Monster: Okay, you got me. That was me. But listen, I’m just trying to keep you safe! Scary things can happen in Bolivia! You have no idea what llamas are really like!
Me: Thank you for trying to protect me! But I don’t think I’m in as much peril as you think I am.
Saddest Monster: How can you be sure? Full-time llama herding is very hard, and there are so many things to worry about connected with this.
Me: I know you have lots of worries…but also, what happens if it’s not hard?
Saddest Monster: Um. I don’t know if I believe that.
Me: That’s okay. I’ll believe it for both of us. But also get this — this is such a coincidence, because I’ve been thinking about balance all week — I think you’re afraid that I’ll do it without balance. So you’ve been trying to get me to run around thinking about the Dilemma rather than solve it.
Saddest Monster: Exactly. I want you to be safe! Balance keeps you safe!
Me: Wow, I had no idea you knew that. You want me to be balanced, too! I thought you just liked posing impossible Dilemmas for fun!
Saddest Monster: That’s just because it’s fun watching you run in circles. Tee-hee.
Me: Very funny. I think I can help you, though. You want to keep me safe: I want to be safe, too. And I think the safest thing is not to stay far away from Bolivia and the adorable llamas but to start imagining what it might be like if I lived there full-time.
Saddest Monster: (cautiously) That sounds okay. That feels safe. We’ve felt so unsafe before when trying new things.
Me: I need you to know that I will be safe because I’m not going to renounce my dual citizenship until I can do it in a balanced, safe way. That’s something we haven’t tried before and it will be different this time.
Saddest Monster: (perking up) I like this idea!
Me: Good. I think you’re on my side, now. This is going to be way more fun than fighting each other 🙂
The Saddest Monster, a.k.a. the Dilemma Troll, a.k.a. the Bolivian Customs & Immigration Troll, has been a lot happier since I’ve done some further research into how to achieve my Bolivian dreams safely, and furthermore how to do them with balance. This is something I never would have discovered about this particular, seemingly-unrelated monster, if I hadn’t already been mucking around with the idea of balance this week.
The two different pieces of balance
One image I got from Shiva Nata-ing about balance looked something like this:
Two powerful things held together by a bond of energy. When I asked for more clarity about this, I realized that the two things are the two parts of balance: stability and fluidity. These are the two qualities that must be maintained together in order for balance to work, of course.
Stability without Fluidity is: rigidity. Painful tension. A rut.
Fluidity without Stability is: floppiness. No boundaries. Chaos.
(One caution: these are true for me. Not universally true!)
The connection between the two is the body. This was an important clue for me, something I know but perhaps hadn’t solidified into words. Connection with the body brings these two things together. Bringing stability into the body, bringing fluidity into the body, this creates balance.
Pursuing balance seemed kind of tricky when I started this week of inquiry: because isn’t balance just a state you achieve? Like mindfulness — easy to get, but hard to maintain? So shouldn’t I be able to get there instantly?
Well, maybe it’s a little bit like that. But this image and the idea of the two qualities I need to cultivate, fluidity and stability, this gives me a path to follow. I can choose activities that cultivate one or the other.
The culture of snakes
As I was journaling my investigations into balance this morning, this awful, nagging, persistent thing kept popping up. You may remember that offering to the dragon that happened a while back. Or perhaps the oogly boogly swamp creatures I’ve also written about. Well, this thing is most definitely related to that stuff.
I was trying to think up a way to explain this without getting into the boring details, using Havi’s metaphor mouse technique, and I came up with this:
This morning someone ran up to me in the forest and yelled,
My instinct was to instantly freeze.
A snake? Where? Ohmygod it was going to slither up and bite me! Should I run? Should I hide? Should I scream? All three at once?
Except I didn’t. I stopped, and I looked back at the person, and I realized what they thought was a snake….wasn’t. I also realized three things:
1) They really really, really wanted me to react to the snake. 2) It was not my job to react to the snake, especially because there was no snake. And 3) I need a really nice way of responding to this snake warning without laughing helplessly at their confusion. Oh dear.
Maybe you have someone like this in your life, too. Who constantly sees snakes. And warns you about them. Oh my god have you heard about the new snakes in town? Vicious, sneaky, horrid! You had better hurry up and panic because that is the only sane thing to do!
Of course, if you are not in the habit of panicking about fake snakes that don’t exist, it’s kind of hard to talk to this person with a straight face. And yet, it must be done. Sigh.
It took me a lot of journaling to get to a place where I was okay with the fact that this snake was indeed fake. And that this person is prone to seeing them. And that for a long, long time we used to panic about snakes together. So we have this whole long history together and when they yell Snaaaaaaake! my friend has every reason to believe I will panic, too.
But not this time. Here’s what I’m planning to write to my beloved snake-fearing friend:
- I didn’t see a snake. I did see a vine, though.
- We’re not going to agree on everything. That’s okay. It’s not my job to explain to you why I saw a vine, just as it’s not your job to explain to me why you saw a snake.
- I get that you’re worried about snakes and what they can do. Me too! We want the same thing: safety.
- I need help dealing with the vines in my life, not the snakes. If I’m worried about a snake, I will come to you first thing. But if I need advice about the vines, I’m going to go to my fellow horticulturists and you and I will just have to talk about non-slithery and non-horticultural things. I’m sure it will be just as awesome.
We’ll see how my communique is received. Forest communication can be tricky that way sometimes. I’ll let you know.
So there you have it, three BIG things from just two days of figuring out this Balance thing. Side effects are powerful indeed.