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Elan Vitae


  • J Bristol


Considering balance as a function of aperture

If you’ve caught yourself thinking, muttering, or otherwise declaring at some point that balance is total bullshit because this nebulous, evasive, elusive holy grail always seems more than a few steps away, you’re not alone.

The hurried actions, the intense focus, the all-consuming connection to what’s happening right in front of you can be a whirlwind of fun, of stress, productivity, action, even satisfaction. When uber-focused on one area of life, we can often feel we’re neglecting others - creating a sense of imbalance, leaving us striving for more of it.

But is it really out of balance?

Just one step backward away from the intensity of a moment or space in time can reveal a completely new scene. One of more interconnectivity and ultimately, more balance. That one step back reveals just how the intensity of the current moment in one area of life weaves into the others and is quite often crucial to the bigger picture balance.

A tight and exacting relationship with the concept of balance can be limiting. A notion that is meant to convey a sense of calm, zen, security, even harmony begins to constrict rather than expand us when too much pressure is placed on it. Like anything under pressure, the very feeling it is meant to uphold begins to crumble, resulting in a dimming of your light and limitation in your power and potency. This can give way to emotions like guilt, shame, and doubt, ultimately distracting us from where we need our current attention to be.

Holding balance as a value

Striving for balance is different from holding it as a value. Inherently, its definition must be fluid and malleable in order to engage it most effectively. Striving connotes difficulty or lack while holding as a value connotes a healthier, almost separate perspective. Not quite objective, but not totally subjective either, it is a position that is solid and secure, effectively keeping loose watch over the overall outcomes while flowing those emotions that amplify instead of inhibit the desired results.

In photography, aperture refers to the amount of light you let into a scene that you’re about to capture. A step from f3.5 to f2.8 on the camera reveals an entirely new layer of things not noticeable before. What was once hidden in the outskirts or background of the frame suddenly comes into light, revealing a more balanced view of the scene within the frame.

Each compartment of life demands a different amount of attention at different times. Our health, our work, marriage, self development, relationships, all need to take center stage at some point. It is easy to get into a groove and coast but there is no such thing as autopilot without someone to be available for its override.

Expansion at any level is expansion at every level. Stretching your reach in one area inevitably stretches other areas in unique ways. How does a promotion or new project stretch your home life and relationships? Your physical and mental health? How does an upset on the home front ripple through your work life or friendships?

Short term, there is something to be said for being present in the moment. There is value in honoring that presence, in keeping the focus on the foreground and letting everything else fade out of focus into the background.

However, the “present moment” can be a literal moment, a week, a month, or even a year. And the step back can be minimal or gigantic. Loosening your relationship with the concept of balance can allow for more ease in being present in the current moment, where you deem your attention most needed.

Adjusting your aperture

Experiment. Play. Back up to shed more light on your current landscape. One step, two steps, ten steps, then listen and observe. Allow the nuances to reveal themselves. Allow the mysteries to explain themselves from your new point of view. Most importantly, add a layer of intentional awareness around your relationship with balance so you are able to gauge and acknowledge the resulting harmony. Balance was never a destination, but always an experience.

Reframing the aperture through which you measure balance brings more confidence, surety, ease, clarity of thought and action for more optimal potency.

Longer term, how can you know your aperture on balance is set correctly?

- You have a strong sense of trust in where your time, attention, and energy is spent.

- You are conscious of the bigger picture outcomes and goals, but find it easy to focus your attention on action and strategy in the present moment.

- You enjoy the flexibility and agility to check in and keep other areas spinning while engaged deeply in one.

- You rest easily on a regular basis.

- You have the support you need in place for achievement in all areas - you create inevitable balance by engaging the people and systems that allow your presence to be elsewhere. This can be child care, a technology for your business, a house manager or other domestic help, an in-person or virtual assistant.

A small change in aperture can take you from the frustration of “balance is bullshit” to the harmony and peace of “balance is beautiful.” With the proper perspective or aperture, balance helps us to flow energy in direction of the people and things most important to us but still exist and expand multidimensionally, maintaining an elegant connection between roots and reach.


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