"There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life."
Alain de Botton
"How one walks through the world, the endless small adjustments of balance, is affected by the shifting weights of beautiful things".
Three years ago, when I lost my New York City gallery, my life seemed as though it had a new large empty space with nothing to fill it. How that has changed! Now I feel that there's not enough time in a day, and not enough energy, to do all that I'd like to accomplish. It's especially difficult during summer, when there's the garden to attend to, the lawn to mow, and much more socializing than in winter. The serious reading I used to do is now on the bottom of the pile made up of my various art endeavors: painting, photography, textiles, printmaking, all calling for attention, each of which I love.
And then of course, the computer sits atop it all, with my blogging and photography; with Facebook, and reading the news online. Is de Botton correct in saying worthwhile things unbalance your life? I prefer thinking in a way closer to Scarry; there is a constant shifting, weighing, balancing, of things beautiful and not, but paying attention to beauty can keep us grounded. The most important thing I've realized, and that I am attempting to teach myself, is to choose something to do each day––whether painting, or printmaking, or making dinner for friends––and relax into it; don't spend time worrying about the long list of chores I have to do; do one thing at a time and give it my attention. And don't be concerned if I don't get everything done. Calm, relaxed, accepting. I haven't yet learned the lesson completely (oh, it's so much easier to worry!) but I'm working at it. Do you have a strategy to balance all the things in your life?
UPDATE: My friend, the poet David Budbill pointed me to a quote by Thích Nhat Hahn quote, which goes to what I was feeling:
If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes". What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cut in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future––an we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.