Losing Balance

Weebles, it is said, wobble, but they do not fall down.

Humans, on the other hand, fall down all the time.  We are often in the process of falling.

To walk we have to lean forward, lose our balance, and begin to fall.
We let go, constantly, of the previous stability, falling, all the time, trusting that we will find a succession of new stabilities with each step.
The fullest living is a constant dying of the past, enjoying the present fully, but holding it lightly; letting go without clinging and moving freely into new experiences.
Our experience of the past and of those dear to us is not lost at all,
but remains richly within us.
Robin Skynner

Balance isn’t ever a static thing.   If it were, we would be more like trees, magnificent but with virtually no forward motion at all.

Creating balance in life is a dynamic process, like being on a surfboard riding a wave, or being on a bicycle and moving forward.    We lose our balance and then we gain it again in a new attitude.

If we are not willing to surrender our current stability, we can get stuck, but when we do surrender that stability, we can get keep falling, trying to control our process but getting lost in the wobbly range of possible choices.

Balance is less about what we say “no” to, the position we know that we need to leave behind, and more about what we say “yes” to, the position that provides us the next bit of stability that moves us a bit in the direction we need to go.

It is easy to get lost in that moment of motion, not seeing any possibilities that seem sure, confident, useful or even possible.    When we get lost in that process of falling,  we can easily start to spiral in, chasing our tails in a desperate search to avoid past mistakes, to find a way forward that doesn’t feel like an old trap, one that has ensnared us in the past.

This creation of uncertainty that inhibits action, binding us up, is often a function of fear.   Our ego wants to avoid discomfort, and a lifetime of training has taught us that inaction feels safer than choice.   Choice is risky, dangerous and scary, while inaction is self satisfying, inhibiting and doesn’t threaten pissing others off.   The status quo is easy to justify while change is easy to resist, so stasis feels comfortable even if we are digging ourselves into a pit by spinning round in our head or in our life.

What happens when we tie ourselves in knots because we cant envision a new possibility, a next step that can move us forward?

We fall down, of course.  And then we have to pick ourselves up and start again, losing momentum and pushing through any bangs and bruises.  The challenge feels magnified.

The marginalized in this world know what it is like to have barriers placed in their path that don’t seem to allow a direct next step.   We understand the challenge of being stopped by all sorts of blocks.   We understand the cost of having to pick ourselves up again after we have been tripped up to start again.   And we understand that there are some who just hope our progress will be impaired, our challenge thwarted by these impairments thrown at us.  That’s the way that stigma and marginalization works.

It’s one thing to know how to retain balance by keeping momentum up, by avoiding getting knocked down, but to do that, you have to depend on gyroscopic forces that keep pushing you back to the centre line.

If you want to be able to turn sharper corners, to get off the easy and standard route, the most important thing you can do is not to avoid losing balance through limited motion, but instead to learn how to regain your balance after a stop, how to get back up after you fall.

And the secret of that trick is to avoid spiralling in with fear and shame, just digging a hole in the ground.   Rather than turning energy into tight loops, we have to be able to regain momentum after a spill, even knowing, knowing, knowing that we are bound to hit another wall and fall again in the future.

This faith in momentum to create balance in our lives,  a faith that motion will propel us towards more equilibrium,  is very hard to learn for those whose experience is being sabotaged by society.    We know where we have hit potholes and speedbumps in the past, and so we tense up, always expecting that “third gotcha.”

Losing our balance is a key to being able to move forward, as Dr. Skynner reminds us.   Momentum can help us find new and better stability.

But for those of us who need to learn to change direction, who don’t go down the conventional path, who hear the sound of a different drummer, being willing to fall down and then start moving again, rather than just chasing our tails and spiralling where we were knocked down, feeling safe by staying put.

Moving forward is the only way we can find new and better stabilities, new and better ways of being in the world,

The only way we can move forward is to be willing to let go of the past, trusting that what we have learned there will stay with us and inform our next steps, making us more centred and grounded.

The only way to gain balance is to lose it, then change in a way that lets us gain it again.

And that is true even if it often feels better to just hunker down, play out our fears, and find reasons not to get up again.

Humans are not weebles.  And I thank God that means we can fall down, for falling moves us towards learning and growth.