Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Balancing Act

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." -Thomas Merton

Balance is a powerful word. It can be both elusive and difficult to achieve, yet holds the key to unlocking peacefulness, and harmony. Architecture is deeply aware of balance as it not only keeps structures from collapsing by balancing weights and loads, but it also seeks a harmonious composition of the spaces, and their facades as it balances architectural features, volumes, color, etc.

Balance is understood when we see Stonehenge

Balance is understood when we see a ballerina on Pointe

Balance is understood through the teachings of yoga

And with that sense of balance, even when precarious, we feel a sense of rightness, of harmony, equilibrium, and steadiness that resonates with us.

Balance plays an integral role in the design of our spaces. As architects, we balance the desire for light-filled spaces with the need for privacy; the use of new bold materials with a sense of comfort and warmth; vibrant lively design within a soothing environment.

Our personal lives too have experienced the importance of balance. We were first introduced to it as we tried to sit up as babies and balance our heads upright. Certainly wobbly at first, we unknowingly learned to “balance our weight,” thus understanding point and counterpoint. Then as toddlers, walking gave us an often rude lesson on balance. Sometimes painful falls were our teachers as we naturally got a little bruised up with some of our early balancing acts.

In adulthood, the search for balance is a life-long endeavor. As parents, we try to balance our work and our family time. When one area of our life becomes too dominant, the other parts suffer as we fail to strike that balance. Many of us stay on the endless treadmill that we think will lead us to a happiness triggered by success and achievement. But, we often find that we are running aimlessly and truly getting no closer to our pursuit of happiness, or we exhaust ourselves in the process. Without balance, we feel unsteady.

In a generation of excess and instant gratification, capturing and maintaining that sense of balance is a true feat. It is much easier to allow oneself to be pulled into something all-consuming, where discipline and balance are disregarded. It is with far more awareness and dedication that we make our way towards the beauty and poise of balance.

So, look within to understand the elements that are in need of balance in your life: the balance between your driven, success-oriented, energy and the quiet, reflective, stillness that resides within. Allow the balance into your life, so that the quiet voice of introspection and peacefulness can surface and be heard.

Only a life that is balanced is genuinely poised for happiness.

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