For years now I’ve felt guilty because parts of my life are out of balance. I wake up to an alarm 7 days a week because I feel guilty for sleeping in. I don’t have any hobbies because I don’t want people to show up at my funeral and lie to about how good I was at wood working. I want people to say that I made a difference. I want my kids to have memories of me playing with them, but I’m more interested in my kids having memories of me making personal sacrifices for what I believe in.
Aside from the fear of being trapped underwater in a car (I literally think about this every time I get in my car), my greatest fear in life is that I’m not driven enough, or that I don’t have the discipline required to do anything that is really worth doing. What I know with certainty is that if I keep everything in my life “in balance” then I absolutely will not have the time, nor the energy to do the things that I believe will be of greatest value to those in my circle.
You can live a balanced life and still fail at living a life that makes a difference.
Here’s the point, though. I’m gravitating toward the idea that “balance” is just one big joke dreamed up by some bum that doesn’t want to work. I blame my grandmother for this. She passed away just a few years back at the age of 102. I would listen to her stories of what her life was like and one great difference I notice is that balance was out of the question. Unless you were one of the social or political elite, there were no vacations, sabbaticals, personal days, or sick days. There was work and there was rest. There was an ever-present reality that life was not easy and life was not fair. The only way to overcome these two factors was to work hard- both as an individual and within the community you were part of.
This has been profound in thinking through my life, faith, and work. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to work 12 hour days. I don’t want to trade in the intangibles of my life for a pathological addiction to being productive. But what I do want to do is live my life in a way that matters. This means I have to work- and so do you. I believe that work is larger than your 9:00-5:00. It includes the work of building great relationships, pursuing an active faith, the work of personal maturity, the work of being a really great neighbor, and more. If you want to live a life that makes a difference beyond your own wishes and wants, then you have to give up on keeping everything in balance.
I chose to embrace the idea that if I want something in my life, then I must pursue it with a level of intensity and focus that is out of balance. I need to stay up late, get up early, put in extra hours, and think about it when I’d rather be watching Netflix. I need to invest more than I want and play less than I’d like.
I really don’t care if you buy my thoughts on balance. I do care about you living a life that you’d be proud to pass on to the next generation when you’re dead. So go figure out that thing that you really care about and get your life all bent out of shape in the pursuit of it. If you’re lucky, your grandkids will thank you for it.