my dad is a Conversation Bomber. he likes to bring up a topic, drop it in the middle of everyone, then step back and watch the explosion and fallout. there was one time he was with “the sisters” (my 8 aunts) and the uncles, and he says “you’re in the water, all your children are equidistant from you, drowning, and you only have time to save one. who would you pick?” and to all the protests of “I don’t know” or “I can’t even think about it”, he countered that in their heart of hearts, each of them knew exactly who they would save. there were arguments, people who left the room looking punch-drunk after several rounds, intermittent food breaks (but then again, there are always food breaks with my family).
I’m not all that sure he always believes the side he argues on. he just loves a good debate. and a little bit pissing people off. but mostly, I think he enjoys challenging us to think and articulate (and for him to be proven right). there was this party at our house once, I was maybe a pre-teen. he got into this incredibly heated discussion (which I thought was a fight) about filipino politics that went on for ages. and as our guest was leaving, I was stunned to see him and dad shake hands and smile. that’s when I learned you could disagree and be friends.
so anyway, I remember this time we were all sitting around the table after dinner. it could’ve been thanksgiving, but maybe it was just a regular evening at home. my dad asks us something along the lines of “what is the most important thing to have in your life?” and by thing, he meant relative concepts like happiness or wealth or family. we answered as best we could, and you could see him taking in our answers and weighing them with whatever bit of knowledge he was waiting to spring on us, nodding his head. because his answer was THE answer. the answer from which all of our answers would come forth. BALANCE. if you have balance in your life, you will be happy. you will be healthy. you will get your pony.
go ahead and have fun! but balance it with work. balance work with exercise. balance exercise with books. balance books with music or theater. balance knowledge with religion, or at least spirituality. initially, balance was this simple blind justice weighing of scales in my head, but as the decades have passed, my image of balancing all the components of my life are more like that big stone disc atop a not-big-enough pedestal in National Treasure 2. or if you haven’t seen that, picture a plate precariously perched on a stick. and then, of course, set that plate spinning. because there’s not just this side and that side. there are innumerable sides all calling for my attention and nurturing. work and children and marriage and house. dog. health, wealth, family, religion, education.
there really is a point to all this reminiscing. I’m out of balance. which feels quite a lot like being out of sorts. I was photographing the black belt test at my husband’s taekwondo school a few weekends ago, and I was shooting, then running across to the lounge to check on the kids, then shooting, then running boy #2 to the library, then getting the lunch buffet set up, then taking the youngest to his soccer game. I was doing everything, but nothing.
and I get that that’s just life, but I’m tuning 45 this week, and I really just thought I’d have a better handle on it all by now. so I’ll keep trying. I’ll commit to working on my photography everyday. every. single. day. shooting, editing, blogging, website-ing. SOMEthing. I’ll take the kids to the pool so they can get sun and exercise and fresh air (me, too), and make them read books. I’ll kiss my husband and pour him a bourbon with 2 ice cubes. I’ll look at all that other stuff and do it, too. and do it with intention and attention. and some of it, I’ll let go. the thing is, though, even if I do ever achieve that perfect balance, I’ll still have to work to keep it that way anyway, so I might as well dig in now.
and now I get to check “blog” off my list.