Life Out of Balance

by Bob Schwartz

“A tormenting thought: as of a certain point, history was no longer real. Without noticing it, all mankind suddenly left reality.”
– Elias Canetti

The latest reality is a mass shooting in San Bernardino. Ridiculous people have a chance to become the most powerful leader in the world—and insist on tormenting us along the way. Then there was Chicago. And Paris. And on and on.

The world and our lives are not just one thing or one way. They are all directions and colors, in and out of our control. As simplistic as it seems, what we aim for is balance. That might take time, and under some circumstances, such as times of war or grievous loss, maybe a long time. But over time, balance is our aspiration.

Whatever your personal situation—and that is what matters most—our greater social and public life is out of balance. This isn’t the same as things being either mostly good or mostly bad. That, as noted, is the way things always are at any given moment.

What we need is not a singular center point, which is what so many traditions and ideologies peddle as an answer. If anything, running to “the one answer” can actually add to the imbalance. Instead, what we need is to have a sense of a center being available and possible. Because that goes beyond the acknowledgment that life is out of balance (most of us agree on that) to an earnest search for balance. The power of the search is not that you find a center point, but that you are active in turning towards the things that enhance balance, and away from those that don’t.