Perfectly Unbalanced

I started to write this piece on work / life balance early in the week and it was a total lie. I began by explaining how important balance is, how you must carve out time for family and friends, put aside time to workout, to meditate each day. Truth is I don’t do any of those things…. and I don’t think I ever will.

Last Friday I took part in the yearly Giant Steps conference. One session was a discussion on this very topic and the moderator asked what percentage each guest spent on work, self, family, community, etc. That hit me hard. I would want to say equal balance, “oh, you know I spend 30% of my time on work and like 40% of my time working on my abs, the rest is all family.” In all honesty it is more like 100% on everything…. all the time.

Thankfully, I don’t really see that as a problem. In the last 20 years of work I have lost the ability to distinguish my “job” from my life and have been striving to keep it that way. This would be harder to pull off in other fields but in the arts my workplace is my community, my life is my work. This mentality can lead to lots of problems. It makes for blurred lines, burn out and an inability to walk away or turn it off. It also allows me to feel a deep abiding passion for everything I do. I might have some weeks that are wildly out of balance; long hours attached to my inbox and grinding through my days, but for the most part it blends nicely and I can feel a sense of fluidity as work fades into my life and vice versa.

I had spent a lot of my 20’s trying to fight off these urges, now approaching 40 I can’t help but think that any – mild – success I have had comes out of this worldview. By embracing this idea I can stop apologizing for it, I can actually appreciate how lucky I am to be exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do. Creative work is messy; to box it in feels unnatural. The ultimate goal is a convergence of satisfaction, self-care and productivity. An ideal that is never quite attainable: a life that can be perfectly out of balance yet still thoroughly rewarding.

 
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