We all habitually prefer balance. The lack of it in physical sense is scary and discomforting. The lack of it mentally is every person’s secret nightmare. No one wants to go bonkers. But even if we take a more “balanced” view of the term “balance,” most of us would rather have it or something approximating it than not have it at all or be far from it. Let me elaborate on where I’m going with this. Right now, I’m revising a manuscript that I must have read one hundred times. As I rearrange, cut, add, expand, and rephrase, I’m constantly seeking the elusive quality of balance: How much of literature review is enough here? Do I need to clarify this term right away? How detailed should this sentence be? Do I focus on the overall message, or do I include more information? The struggle to find balance continues along with the struggle to be convincing and to find meaning. In the recently-concluded semester, I succeeded in making a student angry. I have no illusions that this has not happened before. As a matter of fact, it has, and I have faced a dissatisfied or angry student before. Usually, when this happens, I gently try to get the other side to see that a more productive approach is to solve the problem. I usually succeed, although I don’t take or deserve all the credit for it. This time, I went a bit overboard in my commenting on a student’s draft and the student was justifiably angry. The student wanted an apology, I gave it, the student accepted it, and the problem was solved. However, the whole episode, which lasted just a few hours, left me asking some questions regarding balance. In my zealousness to improve a draft, I had almost forgotten that it belonged to the writer. I told myself that I would never again lose this balance; I might lose the draft. That is okay. We have the most need of balance when it appears as if everything–or most everything–is out of it, when we feel as though we are going nowhere, are fighting in vain, and with no army to back us up.

It is true that sometimes our best course is to allow our passions to have their say. There are situations in which this may be the best course. However, often, we tilt a thing too much to a side and depend on what we see. At such times, we conveniently overlook things nearer the opposite end, things that can soothe our feelings and give us hope. In the ultimate analysis, we all make mistakes and no one is perfect. Hence, expecting others to be perfect while ignoring one’s own weaknesses can be misleading and ineffective. What are some ways to find balance in life? Here is a common list of suggestions that most everyone can already think of: walking, sleeping, listening to music, playing, vacationing, talking, partying, praying; the list can go on. What works for me the best when I feel as if I’m sliding out of balance is taking a walk or being by myself, whether simply sitting on my rocking chair, strolling along the road in front of my house, listening to classical music, reading, or writing. I have also tried talking to people, but that does not help much. To me, the reason it does not help seems to be that I’m asking another person to view the world as I see it, imbalanced. The other person, probably not feeling a lack of balance himself or herself, is unable to perform the role of a psychiatrist to my satisfaction. What do you think about balance?


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