I’ve been thinking today about the tension between balance and extremes. This tension is, at the moment, deeply personal, because speaking of extremes, I live in a teepee while working as a Community Manager for a very forward-thinking start-up in the Bay Area. In other words, I spend my days immersed in social media, and I spend my nights with the crickets and the stars.
We like to say that balance comes from a happy medium, a place between extremes (drunkenness and sobriety, obligation and fun, hot and cold) that feels just right. But there is no such place. There can’t be, at least not for any length of time. You might think you’ve found it for a moment, but the harder you cling to it, the faster it slips away.
What if balance isn’t a happy medium at all? What if, rather than being a place between two extremes, we find balance in the extremes themselves? In the midst of this crazy, high-tech world into which I’ve very suddenly thrown myself, living in a teepee gives me a sense of balance because it is extreme. It’s quiet, a little dirty, and occasionally I find a beetle on the wall. This morning when I woke up, I saw Venus peeking through the folds of fabric, and there was no veil between me and the newborn air. It did not feel extreme at all. It felt, rather, like something close to sanity.
The problem with happy mediums is not the mediums themselves; it is our constant pursuit of them. What if we let go of striving after some mythical sense of balance? What if we said to hell with happy mediums and simply went about living happy lives? Who knows? If we cease to pursue it, we might even find that every now and then, the very sense of balance we were looking for comes and sits upon our shoulder.