On my way to work the other day I drove past a small apartment playground. Glancing over I was struck by the 1970’s something teeter-totter sitting in the middle of the playground. It was bright red and covered in a slight snow that we had received the previous day. It was begging to be played with. This teeter-totter was the old school kind, you remember the one without even a handle to hold on? You would cautiously grab the sides of the plank and hope not to fall off while also hoping not to squash your hands as you end went to the ground. Growing up in Nebraska, I can’t imagine how many times I have ridden similar teeter-totters in the snow and the cold. Sometimes I laugh, amazed at the crazy things we did for entertainment.
Driving away I thought about it some more. Do you remember the rest of the story of riding a teeter-totter? No matter what you did, you could never find the balance… you know that kid who weighed exactly what you did? When that kid got on the teeter-totter it was magic. You could go up and down without the hard BUMP at the bottom or the top. You could use the equipment as it was intended – to ride the teeter-totter and sail through the air over and over again. But alas, I always struggled to find that kid. So we would find two, maybe three. You know if Sarah and Billy got on one end and Jamie and I got on the other, well maybe that would work. Wait, Sarah you need to scoot closer to the center and Jamie can you hang off the back a little? NOW it works!!! Nice! But then the bell rings and we run into school until another time at which we will start the process of finding balance all over again.
Sometimes I think we live like those kids on the playground… juggling things around hoping for some sense of balance in our lives. Yet, I’m not sure we are ever intentional about the need for balance in our lives. Is life full of work? Or too full of play? Do you find that you sleep too much or too little? Do you spend too much time on social media? Are you too immersed in the artificial world of television? Is constant contact with your friends critical to your day (it probably feels like it if you are in your teens – sorry guys)? I frequently find that I forget about the need for balance in my life and I have to remind myself. Well, honestly life usually reminds me with a BUMP when my teeter-totter hits the ground. I find balance easier to achieve of late, that may be because I’m better at seeking it, but honestly I think it’s because life is just easier when you are not single parenting young children. It was harder to find balance then – so much energy went into my daily responsibilities. Or there were days when I was working full time, parenting, and working on a PhD – those days were exhausting, sometimes the only balance came during term breaks, when my husband would say “let’s get a vacation in while you are off”. So often in my life I sought rest and rejuvenation late at night after the kids were in bed. I am blessed, I can find peace with a walk with the kids and dogs, or a song riding to work, or a quiet moment with a book late at night – little things help me find balance and rest in my life. And when I forget… life gives me a teeter-totter BUMP.. then I find balance, smile and go on with life. I hope you are able to intentionally seek balance in your life, so you can enjoy the ride – bumps and all.