Monday, May 03, 2010
That Mythical Creature Called Balance
You know those magazines by the grocery checkout, the ones promising gourmet dinners in 30 minutes or less, a clean house, solid finances and the design pattern for a tropical fish tank birthday cake? I've noticed a trend in them: they talk a lot about Balance.
What they're really selling is how to have it all: the dayjob, the hobbies, the exquisite house and the made-from-scratch birthday cake.
'T'ain't possible, folks. Balance is as mythical as a unicorn, at least for me. You can't, not with as many irons as I have in the fire, have them all turn out perfectly. You can't -- or at least I can't -- have it all.
Balance brings to mind a deft juggling act on a high wire, with disastrous results if I slip (could also have something to do with my fear of heights).
Instead, I like the medical terminolgy "within normal limits." Doctors have learned that people's enzyme and blood count levels fall within a range, not on exactly the same count or level. As long as it's above the bottom threshold and below the upper threshold, you're "within normal limits."
In other words, keep it between the lines, just like when you're driving.
As I've pursued my writing from the first time I pushed through Chapter Three to finish a book until today, with four books out, I've realized that sometimes I've really shoved against those limits. My house might not always be clean. My dinners might be so bad that Mickey D's appears gourmet in comparison. But my daily wordcount was through the roof.
And then there are other times, when family needs come first, and my daily wordcount bottoms out.
As long as I'm falling between some fairly wide thresholds, it's okay. I'm within normal limits.
Instead of working ourselves up about corralling that mythical, unicorn-like critter Balance, I think we should dispense with it. It's just a guilt-inducing wild goosechase. Set some thresholds -- the absolute worst you'll put up with from yourself and the absolute best.
And keep it between the lines.
The lovely unicorn clip art came via Webweaver, a great place where unicorns hang out.