Getting the most out of our life experience is a matter of balance. Balance, however, is a broad term; it is entirely possible to be balanced in one way and not in another.
There is much discussion to be had regarding how we balance our time and energy; these are finite resources which must be used wisely.
But beyond this discussion, it is also worthwhile to consider what there is to be balanced in the first place; the answer may be broader than we previously envisioned.
The aspects of life we must balance aren't limited to the corporeal, mundane things we encounter on a daily basis. They may also encapsulate our thinking, and how our mindset is suited to the life stage we currently occupy.
Depending on our mindset, there may be aspects of life that we are neglecting altogether. Some of these, we may have yet to rediscover.
ASPECTS OF LIFE
We spend much of our lives thinking practically, operating with necessity in mind. We forgo luxuries, make sacrifices, and keep our heads down to work.
There are many things motivating us to do so. In pursuit of our goals, we may seek prestige or accolades which affirm to us our identity and value. Even if we pursue our goals quite privately, we still aim to reinforce our sense of identity to ourselves; success yields a rush of gratification.
We may strive to maintain our current life circumstances, or to defend and provide for those we love. The threat of loss is a great incentive, producing an urgency in us that permits great feats of productivity.
Otherwise, we may simply be in search of material payoffs, towards which our practical efforts will lead us.
But it is not only our focus that adapts according to necessity. It is also our identity. Not only do certain aspects of life become obscure to us, but so do aspects of ourselves.
These certain aspects may not be suitable for certain times in our lives. It is common that our sensitivity may need to be replaced by stoicism during tough times. This stoicism can help us to live with ourselves, to take action, or perhaps to be strong for others who can’t be.
As the shape of our sensitivity is unique to us, so too will be the shape of our concomitant stoicism. To fabricate such a stoicism, we will draw on whatever tools are within us, cloaking ourselves in them.
This usually involves a fight or flight response; when challenged, we become either hostile or evasive. We may be defensive, or we may compartmentalize.
Otherwise, some of us project our vulnerabilities onto others. If we are needy, emotional, or struggle with criticism, we might also compensate via the opposite of our susceptibility, putting on an unnatural facade of independence, logic, and indifference.
But some individuals are unable to assume such a facade. They may be a little too genuine to pretend to be something they are not, or they may lack the social savvy to make their masks actually convincing to others.
Those who are unable to conceal their vulnerabilities are more aggressively pushed into the same dilemma as everyone else: sooner or later, we must either build character and reconcile our authentic selves with the world around us, or slip into insecurity and hostility towards the surrounding world.
In the meantime, our sensitivity becomes forgotten even to ourselves. But it never goes away; it stays on the back burner, waiting to reemerge at a more ideal time.
For as long as we are without our sensitivity, we may spend our time preoccupied, perhaps walking around with a furrowed brow as we dwell on our errands and to-dos.
This visual might seem cartoonish. Nevertheless, though our brow may not be literally furrowed, our minds may be likewise fixed and immovable.
When we train our minds to focus only on practical things, our curiosity begins to atrophy. The jubilant excitement that comes from simple observation and experience grows dull. We know what we know, and we operate within the confines of that extant knowledge, absent the potential for new discoveries.
This is the natural response of a mind whose ideals cannot yet coexist with the world they belong to. Our minds, however, are naturally curious. They continually seek a return to the more pure way of thinking that we had to leave behind; this thinking only stays suppressed for as long as external pressures are there to keep it down.
LIVING LIFE FREELY
For some of us who are particularly focused, we may find a solution by balancing our mindset. We might learn to fully let go of our burdens outside of our working hours. This may even provide our minds with the reprieve to make us more productive.
Still, others may be better off if they do fully immerse their minds in their work, allowing their curiosity to go dormant. If this work puts them in a better position, their improved circumstances and identity may enable them to live life freely in the end. The end result is the same.
In time, our practical efforts will solve our practical problems. With these practical problems out of the way, we may be prepared to rediscover our curiosity and sensitivity.
With our minds liberated, we begin to reemerge; our learning minds retrain themselves to observe, speculate, and contemplate freely. Our experiences become vibrant and rich, full of discovery and new potential. We become reminded of the beauty of simple things.
When we open ourselves to our own curiosity and rediscover our own sensitivity, we become more empathetic. In our empathy, we now acknowledge the sadness, both within ourselves and the world at large, that we had to turn a blind eye to in the past.
This is why curiosity and sensitivity are costly, and why most of us are forced to set them aside for a time. But as we self-actualize, we improve our systems for dealing with life’s challenges. Our efficient responses to these challenges effectively lighten our load, allowing us to take on more.
We are thereby prepared to acknowledge and address those problems whose solution has been postponed; whether we use this capacity to solve latent issues in ourselves or in others, new possibilities are opened to us.
Curiosity leads to discovery. It is therefore fitting that we have an opportunity towards discovery as children. In adulthood, we must bear down and cultivate that which we have already discovered.
When agitated by the outside world, the pendulum of our life will be set into motion, swinging between the extremes of realism and idealism. But if we develop ourselves, it is bound to settle in the middle. Once we self-actualize, we finally earn our second opportunity at discovery.