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Boreal Community Media

It's Our Turn: Balancing on the shoreline

Jul 15, 2018 10:10AM ● By Editor
Rocks piled by the author to form an inukshuk balance on the edge of Lake Superior. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

Commentary from Lowell Anderson from the Echo Press on July 14, 2018

The longer I live, the more I am discovering the importance of balance.

Balance is important if you're crossing a raging river on a skinny log, but it's just as important in life. To be truly successful, you need balance. In other words, not too much of one thing, not too little of others.

I recently spent a week camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior with my family. Camping can itself be an exercise in balance. Although I always go expecting to spend a lot of time reading, fishing and just relaxing, the experience always turns out to be much more than that. It often becomes more of a balancing act between doing nothing, looking for agates, cooking, cleaning up, splitting wood, sleeping late, going on mini excursions, talking, and just staring into the campfire.

And that's the way it should be. If I spent the whole vacation reading, I'd return to work feeling unbalanced (not to mention tired and hungry). A successful camping trip — just like the rest of life — requires some work, some fun, some relaxation and some time building relationships.

It can also be a good opportunity to try balancing and stacking rocks. We often build rock towers and inukshuks (rocks stacked to resemble a person) on the rocky shore of the big lake. The easiest way is to start with a large rock on the bottom and get progressively smaller as you build upwards. However, it's often more fun to stack rocks in a way that is more precarious — where it looks like they shouldn't be able to balance at all. But these usually don't last long because almost anything can cause them to topple.

Generally, the best way to balance rocks is also the best way to balance life. You put the biggest rocks first, then you follow with rocks that keep getting smaller.

In life, the bottom rock is the most important thing, your number-one priority, and it should get the most time and attention. But you still need to find time for the other smaller things to create a balanced life. The big rocks are the foundation, but it takes all the rocks to make the tower.

Our culture often encourages us to build on an unstable foundation, to be unbalanced, to focus on things that really aren't that important but are nevertheless valued by our society. We admire people who single mindedly struggle to succeed and become the best, and we want to be like them. Our culture tells us that that it's OK to sacrifice everything to get what you want.

While it certainly takes hard work and dedication to reach any goal, what we often don't see is the price that is sometimes paid. If we sacrifice family and relationships for career success, are we really successful? If we become the best at something, but lose our health or our ability to have fun, have we really succeeded?

Not only that, but our culture also encourages us to take things to extremes. It's not enough to run a mile a day, we have to run a marathon. We want it all and we want it now. Slow and steady, although often more sustainable, is not nearly as appealing.

A truly successful life is one that is balanced. It may be balanced over a day, a week or a year, but there needs to be time allocated for all the things that really matter. And the more important something is, the more time and attention it deserves.

It may be exciting and look impressive to build a life with the small rocks at the bottom, but it's a precarious life.

Sooner or later, something will knock over your tower. And then you discover how really important the big foundational rocks, such as family, health and faith, really were.

For more follow this link to the Echo Press website.
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