People often talk of “having balance” or “getting balance” or ‘being more balanced.” As if it’s a thing to get or something to achieve. Balance is a verb—an action word. It’s something you do. Some weeks you may balance well; others not so much.
I was reminded of this recently as I was taking a ski lesson. I’ve been skiing for years but I’m no great skier. Not even good, really. I just enjoy it. Go figure! I’m not athletic and don’t like the cold but I like skiing!
Recently I went skiing with friends, Susan, Sue and Barbara. They are all better skiers than I and I didn’t want a repeat of last year when I embarrassed myself by holding them back. (Spending a lot of time on the ground!) I’d been exercising all year to make sure my legs were stronger. I started the first day with a private lesson where DeDe, my 75 year old ski instructor reminded me that skiing is about balance.
As I’m standing on the top of the mountain, both feet (and skis) on the ground in a level spot, I’m balanced but I’m standing still. Going nowhere. To get moving I need to put my weight on the fronts of my feet and lean forward slightly. That makes me feel off balance. Try this without skis, on level ground you’ll fall over if you lean too far. On skis and snow you’ll start sliding.
As my skis start sliding down the hill, I need to shift my weight to the downhill ski which feels counter-intuitive. This takes me across the mountain until I’m ready to turn, then I shift my balance quickly to the other ski, turning until it becomes the downhill ski.
Skiing, turning, standing on a steep slope are all done with balance. Balancing your body differently to accommodate the terrain and get where you want to go. Coming down the mountain you are not balanced. You are balance-ing. First shifting to one side, then to the other. Off-balance the whole way and quickly making adjustments.
The steeper the mountain the more balancing you have to do. The quicker and smoother your adjustments need to be. People who are really good at it don’t look like they are balancing. They look like they ARE balanced. Swishing down the mountain in smooth S-like turns.
Beginners and advanced beginners like me, often look like they’re off-balance; first in one direction then in the other. Yep, that’s balancing, too. It just ain’t as pretty!
I fell several times. Each time it was because I lost my balance or didn’t adjust it to turn quickly enough. Lean back too far and I’d topple over. Lean forward too far and I’d get to going too fast and panic. If I didn’t fully commit (and I mean fully commit!) my weight to the downhill ski I’d get my skis twisted. Not good! The snow-covered ground is hard and cold!
Life is like that. It’s easy to balance when things are slow and not much is happening. The busier you get, the more challenging the terrain of life the more quickly and smoothly you need to balance by adjusting your schedule or your focus from one thing to another.
Like in skiing, the more you practice balancing the easier it gets not to loose your balance when something new comes up or the terrain changes. The stronger and more flexible you are–physically, mentally and spiritually–the easier it is.
When you feel out of balance, remember, balance is a verb. You may not be balancing well today but what do you need to adjust to balance better tomorrow? What do you need to do in order to be stronger and more flexible to balance better in the future?
Keep adjusting! Balance is a verb!