Balance is a Myth

Something I hear people speak about quite a bit is trying to find balance in their lives. Often we seek balance between work and family, or between responsibility and recreation. Perhaps it is a balanced diet or exercise plan we desire.

In some way, shape or form, we have been conditioned to believe that perfect balance should be our primary goal and that it is the ideal.

With things feeling more “out of balance” than ever, it can help to recognize that this notion of balance is a myth. Or at least anything more than a fleeting moment of it.

Because in order for something to be truly balanced, it must be still. Static. Unmoving and unchanging. But we know that life does not operate in this fashion. It vacillates. It is in a constant state of ebb and flow.

If we picture a metronome or a pendulum, we can start to understand this dynamic. As it swings from one end to the other, it only occupies the center for a brief moment before it continues its oscillation.

Much in the same way, our own lives cycle between various opposing forces, until it finally stops altogether, coming to rest dead in the center. Thus achieving balance by ceasing to move at all.

And while this true “balance” is inevitable for all of us, it is not what we should be striving to obtain. (At least not while we still have breath in our lungs). Rather, we should be seeking to find some measure of equilibrium.

While the difference in common parlance is subtle, we can look at equilibrium as more dynamic (imagine fluxes cancelling each other out), versus balance being more akin to weights on a scale in a state of rest.

What we must realize is that while everything is trying to find homeostasis, the only thing that ever stays the same is that everything changes.

We often try and plant ourselves on this razor edge and stay perfectly in the middle. But this of course is a futile attempt at control. In fact, we are better served to embrace movement; to maintain the ability to adjust our attention and focus where it is needed most…

Understanding that it can be okay to swing to one extreme for a period, so long as we remember to swing back just as far in the other direction for an equal amount of time.

The hard part is finding the sensitivity to know when and where to apply this attention. From the pendulum analogy, too much momentum and it goes off the rails. Too little and it barely moves at all.

Recognize that everything in life has a rhythm. We can try and stand still, fight it, and get out of sync, or we can choose to follow it and keep in time.


In the final stages of the Roman empire there were FOUR emperors – two for the west and two for the eastern empire.
Apparently that is what it required to maintain “balance”.
Or was it that no one man was enough to manage an empire.
A great nation will not long survive mediocre leaders and like it or not mediocre leaders are the rule rather than the exception.
Like it or not the US has become too complex an entity for one leader to manage, and mediocrity has long been the rule in Washington.
Balance is a suicidal illusion fostered by the mediocre.

Anthony July 07, 2020

I would say that it is truly hard to appreciate the good times unless one has experienced the bad. Life has both, and unless you learn how to deal with both with dignity and respect life will be harder than it has to be. What an incredibly boring life it would be if we were to live in the middle and nothing ever happened good or bad. Appreciate the swings for what they are and know that tomorrow is a new day.

Colie Bowerman July 07, 2020

The essence of what you are saying reminds me greatly of the Tao and it’s ways. Except the Tao is often considered receptive and thus feminine. This strikes me of saying much of the same thing with a masculine frame. Much appreciation.

Matthew S. April 20, 2020

Yes movement is constant. Balance is an obtainable goal. I am in business. My Dad use to say “ a business is either growing or dying it can’t stand still”.
I guess the fact that I have 3 different pants sizes in my closet is proof enough that

Jim Ballard April 20, 2020

This is just what I needed, the everyday hustle can grind a man down, beat you straight to the ground and stomp out your guts (if you let it!) this puts life into perspective that you gotta keep moving! Now finding the fortitude to keep moving is hard sometimes it’s words like this that make it possible to shake off the hits life throws and keep moving forward. Thank you for the words of encouragement
Matthew Tavizon
New Mexico copper miner

Matthew Tavizon April 20, 2020

This was really good. The early church father’s, many of which were ascetics and lived in the desert talked a lot about equilibrium. A lot of the really extreme ascetics’s mentors would chastise them for being way too extreme, in the pursuit of righteousness. One of the things that I’ve learned as a Christian is that every day won’t be a day of perfect discipleship and evangelism. Some days will be days of small prayer, and meditation. That’s about it. One of the things that I’m trying to focus on in 2020 is early Church Father like equilibrium.

Rodrick S Robins April 20, 2020

Couldn’t agree more. Everything in moderation except moderation.

Adham Bishr April 20, 2020

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