Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finding Balance

I'd like to share with you a selection from the book, Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  For those of you who don't know, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh and a pioneering aviator in her own right.  She was also an author and environmentalist.  She wrote Gift from the Sea while on a beach vacation. It was first published in 1955.  What she wrote more than fifty years ago somehow still rings true:

Distraction is, always has been, and probably always will be, inherent in woman's life.

For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel.  The pattern of our lives is essentially circular.  We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider's web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes.  How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.  How much we need, and how arduous the attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living.  How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist or saint -- the inner inviolable core, the single eye.

With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women.  I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children.  It has to do primarily with distractions.  The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationship with their myriad pulls -- woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life.  The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence.  It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel. 

As the new year approaches, I'm reflecting on the past twelve months and looking forward to the next twelve.  Finding time for all that has to be done and what I'd like to do is a delicate balancing act.   How do you do it?  How do you find balance in your life?


Lisa Quintana said...

How lovely of you to bring up Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her writing, which, sadly, has pretty much fallen from the notice of most people of our generation.

As your selection shows, her command of the English language and her skill at writing was supreme. It isn't much of a wonder to know that her mother was a poet...the lyricism comes through...almost as if a genetic strand is woven into it. Her father was a diplomat and senator, and financial advisor to Charles...which is how she met her husband.

Balance? My life is notoriously out of balance right now....flitting from one disaster to another...I keep going by looking at my list of priorities and taking care of the one at the top as best I can before moving on to the next...which sometimes leaves a catastrophic hill of UFOs....or maybe UFB's.

I still consider my chief responsibility my daughter...Although she doesn't demand the attention and time that she did when she was small...I find that being the mother of the halfling stage of a 19 year old rather...discombobulating. Remembering how I felt when I came home from college for breaks and while I was living as a quasi-adult, knowing that once again in my parents house I had the responsibilities of a child (that is, having to tell your parents where you were going and when you would be back, and being considerate), some of the rights of an adults....and certainly the benefits of being a child as mom still did all of the cooking...and most of the cleaning up.

I am still consumed with worry when she goes out with her friends and comes back at 1:00 a.m.

I long for the time when I can get back on an even keel....but the winds keep on buffeting and I sway from one tack to another trying to keep on course.

Natalya Aikens said...

thank you.... I may need to read this book, balance is what I have been and will always be striving for...

kathy york said...

I love this book. My copy doesn't look as pretty as yours though. It has been weathered through the years. I love the way she describes the developmental challenges we face through the decades of our lives. As for balance, it is very difficult, but when I do find it, even if only momentarily, it is bliss!