Sunday, February 14, 2010

Up in North Carolina, rebalancing to center in life

I spent the weekend having a nice getaway with my wife to North Carolina.  And no, I didn't bring my bike.  I needed a weekend to rebalance to center in my life, and just remind myself of all that is truly important.  Biking is an important part of my life, and no I'm not quitting.  In fact, I'm going riding tomorrow with a brand spanking new pair of Avid BB7 disc brakes!  There are priorities in life, though. The key to wisdom, and having the outcome of living a happy and fulfilled life, is to obtain a perfect balance in everything.

For a human being to obtain balance in everything is impossible.  It is made so by the human nature, by the feat of truly balancing things, and the misnomer of the word "balance." After living life for my several years, I have come to realize that some things in life cannot be balanced. It is in their nature to resist each other, creating a "tension" between the two.  Most often (but there are exceptions to the rule) the wisest place to stand is at the center of the tension, and to refuse to be pulled to either extreme.  Some people may refer to this as "balancing the two sides," but as I stated previously the word "balance" is really a misnomer in this scenario.  Balancing two things in life occurs when one makes decisions about the levels of importance of two or more things in one's life.  These things are indifferent to each other.  One is not directly impacted by the other, save for the amount of importance they hold in a person's life.  Things that exist in tension, however, are those that at first glance seem diametrically opposed. They appear to be total opposites, with no reconciliation between them.  This is what causes most people to be drawn to either extreme, due to the fact that they see only two possible solutions.  Thus being on one or the other extreme seems like an accurate conclusion.  Wisdom, however, realizes that between the two points of tension there exists a sliding scale, with places to stand all along it.  Most often, the wisest place to stand is close to the middle of the tension.

Take the example of the diametrically opposed viewpoints of environmentalism and industrial progress and urbanization.  Here are the views of the extreme environmentalists (and there are plenty of them, and they make sure that they are heard:
"Cutting down a tree for any purpose is wrong!  Injuring an animal in any way, and even if you forget to feed your dog Molly in the morning and don't put food in her bowl until the afternoon, should be punishable by prison time!  We must deconstruct everything man-made, and return to the forest, living off of what the forest gives us."
Proponents of extreme industrialization, urbanization, and "progress" say:
"Log all those forests off and turn them into houses and paper! Whales are good for money, and I am going to hunt them until they're gone so I can get as rich as possible!  We are going to build a superhighways into the Alaska interior and get that oil out of there!  Hell, we'll pave a road right across the flanks of Denali if we have to!"
These are the extreme viewpoints.  True wisdom understand that the best place to stand is most likely at the center of the tension.  The wise man proposes environmental conservation and good stewardship: wise use of the land as the best course of action.  Not clear cutting all the forests or abstaining from cutting  a single tree, but cutting and replanting, or doing selective cuts.  Wisdom says it is foolish and wasteful to drive an SUV if you are sitting in traffic, by yourself, on your commute to the office in the heart of Atlanta.  Wisdom also says that the contractor living up in the mountains of Dahlonega may have a very legitimate reason to drive a big diesel pickup truck all day.

The one exception to this concept of standing at the center of tension is when the two things in question make mutually exclusive truth claims.  I.E. they both cannot be true at the same time. It takes wisdom to realize when this is the case.  It takes wisdom to realize that this case can even exist.  And it takes great wisdom to discern what really is the truth when they are two different viewpoints that simply cannot be compromised.

For now, this has been enough discussion about balance, tension, and wisdom.  In a future post, perhaps I will expound more on different examples of mutually exclusive claims.


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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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Mountain biking, plain and simple. Trail reviews, ride reports, and philosophical musings induced by delirium from grinding up way too many vertical feet.

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