Have you ever looked around and realized with dismay that you are stranded in a sea of concrete? Arriving at a metropolitan airport the other day I was struck hard with this sense. As the hours wore on I became increasingly aware that I had spent the entire day â most of the week actually â surrounded by cement, steel, glass and one or another form of plastic.
Iâm not suggesting that there is anything wrong with these things. But often when I am flying, I find myself looking down at greenery and winding roads, wishing I could transport myself to the paradise below. Now, if I were to do this I would no doubt find a lot of people working very hard in those fields. They would look at me in my parachute and say, âSo you thought this was paradise, eh? Hand me that toolbox over there and get to work.â
No matter where we are and no matter what we do for a living, we would do well to revisit the words of Greek poet Euripides: âThe best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.â
Technology and the pace of life have all but erased this consideration from our collective mind. Computerization, cell phones and the need for 24/7 availability have changed the very meaning of balance in our quest for success and fulfillment. What has not changed is human nature. We need balance between work and play, between the relentless realities of work life and the quiet meditative reflection that replenishes our spirit.
Escapism is not the answer. Movies, television and our worldâs fanatical obsession with celebrity only cancel out our frustrations temporarily. Drugs and alcohol can destroy us physically and void our spiritual existence.
Rather, when we begin to feel ourselves wanting to pull away from tedious and superficial trappings of everyday life there are far better ways to reconnect with reality. There are good ways to re-fire the spirit. Here are a couple of suggestions that work for me; maybe theyâll be good for you, too. Itâs not that you never knew about them, but like me you may have forgotten.
1) Jump into the deep end. Iâm not talking about the hotel swimming pool! What I mean is, try something new — something that you think is maybe a bit over your head. Have you ever wanted to play piano but have never had a lesson and donât have time? Why is that stopping you? Sit down at a piano and let your hands find some notes. So what if you donât know what youâre doing? Itâs all music. Never mind the so-called rules. Iâm willing to bet that within 60 seconds (or less if you allow yourself to relax and forget about what other people think) youâll please yourself beyond belief with the sounds you are making. The tones may soothe you. They may excite you. You will amaze yourself.
If music is not your thing, take that digital camera out of your drawer and go shoot pictures. Donât forget to leave the manual at home. Donât even read it! Again, I promise you will discover that your spirit to have fun and do fantastic things is stronger than whatever it is that has been stopping you. The point is, stretch yourself. Go ahead and be uncomfortable with the fact that you are a neophyte at whatever it is you are doing. Then relax, forget it and create your personal masterpiece.
2) Go find some green. Those fly-over fields I spoke of earlier really are paradise, and even the people who work in the most bucolic settings tend to forget that they are surrounded by it. Wherever you are, take a half day and confer with the trees. Be quiet. Listen to yourself breathe. Get over being uncomfortable that youâre being unproductive. For one, itâs not true. There is nothing more productive than refreshing oneâs spirit with quiet reflection. For another, your productivity will increase five-fold once you incorporate spirit seeking into your daily and/or weekly routine.
You do not need to be in quiet rural surroundings to accomplish this. Almost any city has a place to accommodate spiritual freshening. One of the best four hours I ever spent was in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The trees along the mall are as majestic and spectacular as any you will ever see.
It has never been more important that we establish balance in our lives. The balance between our outward and our spiritual lives must be achieved if we are to be of the greatest service to our families, our friends, our employers and ourselves. Seek it today and begin living better!
by Joan Klostermann-Ketels