Good evening dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. A life of balance has always seemed like a pipe dream, something which was just not realistic or attainable. To be honest, sometimes I do not think I have ever had a moment of balance in my entire life. I cannot think of a single moment when every area of my life was spinning smoothly.
You have probably never heard the name Erich Brenn. I had not either until recently. Apparently in February 1969 he appeared on the Ed Sullivan variety show. He was so popular he would appear seven more times on the show. His claim to fame was “plate spinning”.
Brenns’ routine consisted of spinning five glass bowls on four foot long sticks. At the same time he would spin eight plates while he was spinning the bowls. The idea was to keep everything spinning without letting anything crash to the ground. Just as a bowl began to wobble & look as if it would drop, Brenn would frantically run over & get it spinning again.
Sounds like the average week in my life.
Plate spinning has become a metaphor for how many of us live our lives. We frantically move through our week trying to keep all of the plates in our work & personal life from dropping. It can be daunting & exhausting.
So, in the past, when I would hear someone talk about work life balance, this was the picture which came to my mind. I pictured living life in such a way all the plates were spinning smoothly nothing was crashing to the floor. One of the speakers at the recent Chamber of Commerce conference I attended, suggested there was no such thing as work ~ life balance…
So, as you can probably tell, I question the word “balance”. But I do like the word rhythm. Rhythm allows for busy seasons & unanticipated crisis. Rhythm has room to acknowledge life is not orderly & does not always go according to my plans.
Noah benShea writes, “It is the space between the notes which makes the music.” The same is true of life. We must have space (rhythm) between the notes to make life work.
We live in a universe defined by rhythm. As you read this sentence you are breathing in rhythm. The average person inhales & exhales 15-16 times per minute. Your heart beats with a very predictable rhythm. When you get an EKG done, it is to measure the electrical rhythm.
The tide comes in & goes out with a sense of rhythm. Much of the beauty of music is tied to rhythm. Farmers have a rhythm of planting & growing & harvesting.
Even the physical dirt needs a break. Nothing was made to constantly produce. Everything ever created needs rest & restoration. And you & I, my friend, are no exception.
If you violate this principle of rhythm long enough, you will pay a price. When you ignore a healthy rhythm of life, you end up doing violence to your body, your soul, your relationships, & to your emotions.
As you well know, there is always more to be done & needs to be done. The needs of some work will always outpace your capacity. But you can choose a rhythm to declare even though there is still more to do, you can stop to rest & restore.
Think about how much slower life was in days of past generations. The lack of technology & transportation forced life to be slower. The lack of cars, planes, e-mail & smart phones made it easier to take your time. Today, we live in a very different world; we therefore must be even more intentional about a life of rhythm allowing for space & rest.
More & more we live in a world open for business 24 hours a day. This is why deliberately choosing a healthy rhythm is crucial.
Too often in my life, I have tried to live as though I had no limits. Can I remind you & I today we are NOT Superman. We have limited time, energy, capacity, & emotional reserve. These limits as a gift to remind us our rhythm allows us to stop & rest & replenish & restore.
Because we have limits, it is ok to not always be accessible. When you have a tendency toward people pleasing like I do, this can be a huge challenge. But do not let the expectations of others rob you of a healthy rhythm.
So we should stop chasing the illusion of balance & deliberately choose a life of rhythm. What say you my friends?
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next week.
 Noah benShea is one of North America’s most respected and beloved poet philosophers. He is a Pulitzer Prize nominated, international Best Selling author of 25 books translated into 18 languages.