Readers Who are Krazy for Kindle: Balancing acts

March 29, 2011

Balancing acts

I like being busy. The alternative to busy is being bored, and nobody wants a bored writer wreaking havoc on the world. Okay, okay. I don't wreak havoc (but I aspire to do that one day, because it sounds fun and maybe there are explosions and car chases). When I get bored, I loll on the couch and watch TV and eat chocolate-covered foods.

I haven't had a chance to be bored lately, which I suppose is a good thing. But, you know, there is busy, and oh-my-God busy, and are-you-freaking-insane busy, and oh-shit-did-I-just-say-yes-to-something-else-oh-my-God-I'm-freaking-insane busy.

I'm in the middle of that last kind of busy, and have been for the last few weeks. Oh, yeah. It's the busy of all busyness that makes me quiver in fear and sweat bullets and assume fetal positions in corners ... until I realize if I don't tackle SOMETHING, I will be buried alive with obligations. When I don't post on Facebook for a couple of days, people will come looking for me, and have to dig through papers, and books, and half-finished to-do lists, and chocolate wrappers, and exploded computer bits to drag out my cold, dead body. I will be dressed in pajamas, the keyboard clutched in one hand, and an empty box of Godiva in the other.

Not that I'm being dramatic, or anything.

This is often the way I feel on Mondays, but right now, it's an every day thing. I wake up, and smile, and then I think of massive to-do list ... and well, coffee time! I have a vague plan to create lists for daily tasks, and weekly tasks, and oh-crap-that's-really-late-get-it-done-now lists, but that takes time, and I have a book due um ... yesterday-ish (so naturally I'm blogging, because THAT MAKES SO MUCH FREAKING SENSE).

I know how to be organized. Externally. If you came to visit and you snooped around my cabinets, you would see everything in order. Even my junk drawer is organized. I don't like piles of random stuff. I don't mind life messes: You know, the occasional unmade bed, a book left on a table, a couple of dishes in the sink. It's those "I don't know what to do with this so I'll shove it in here for the next three years" messes that make me twitch. The very idea that something doesn't have a place annoys me. Everything should have a proper place, right?

(Note: I promise you this is not a digression. Or if it is a digression, I'll make it mean something when I wrap up this blog. Really. I'm a writer. And a woman. I can justify anything, baby.)

Life, however, cannot be divvied up and put into labeled boxes or specifically designated shelves. (Hah! Digression avoided!) I've tried this. It doesn't work. Partly, this is because life includes other people who might not organize the way I do (or organize at all), and partly it's because life cannot be predicted, which means a crap storm can hit at any minute. No matter how separated I try to keep things, the fact is that they usually intersect. I don't think that's a bad thing, either, just an uncontrolled one.

And here's where we get to the crux of the situation. Control. For a very, very, (um, VERY) long time, my life was out of control. Sorry to go for the cliche here, but ... my life was like a dam that kept getting cracks. No matter how many times I tried to patch it up, it just got more leaks. Finally, the cracks got so big and wide and difficult to fix, that I finally said, "Screw it. Let it fall down." The water breaks through, the dam gives away, and I'm trying not to drown. When you get to that point, and it's a terrible place to be, you wake up every single morning to the sensation of drowning. Sometimes, you need people to pull you out and throw you onto dry land. That's what happened to me. I couldn't fix the dam, but I could get out of the water.

I wonder sometimes if finding balance is achievable. I don't think it is. Life is not a straight line in equal segmented parts. First of all, that line is not straight. It's curvy and goes over mountain ranges and into valleys and through swamps. Secondly, the segments are always unequal. Priorities shift all the time. If family needs have to be met, then something else, say work stuff, has to make room. Thirdly, dreams, goals, and needs change, and that re-arranges segments--sometimes adding or subtracting 'em.

So maybe living isn't a balancing act at all. Maybe living is being able to determine what's important at any given time and honoring whatever obligations (or sacrifices) that entails. Maybe it's culling away the old parts to make room for the new. Maybe living is about adapting constantly to change. If mistakes are made, then re-evaluation occurs and new strategies are formed. Progress, then, but not balance.

And I'm okay with that.