CW #15: BALANCE
DO YOU WANT TO FLY?
Talking about balance, today this might be one of the most essential discussions. Though anything we do appears to be so extremely out of balance, such as the high speed we choose to build our economy structure, by now the far beyond global mindsets as well as the uneven lifestyle of absorbing way too much information in comparison with actual human observation skills, that we pursue. Keeping balance is fashion, yet it has become its own fashion victim. As a matter of fact, is due to the self-created mechanisms of life, thoughtlessly following the self-destructive devise of “the bigger the better”, that we indeed fail to succeed in being balanced. Ancient societies, far beyond our modern existence and capabilities have already discussed the importance of finding balance. Furthermore, they have come up with fascinating ideas, eventually implemented in a so-called ancient mentality, the attitude towards life. Maybe it was the proximity and reliance to nature which enabled previous humankind to succeed in such a way. Since living apart of nature’s principles result in being out of balance. Look around - nature is the most efficient teacher. Therefore, let us try to make use of ancient knowledge in order to find the “golden mean”. WELCOME TO CW #15: BALANCE!
Why are we so desperately in need of balancing concepts? Truly, it seems to be hard finding the “golden middle way”. Does this situation arise due to the overload of information caused by social media, the constant comparison between society members or maybe the excessive greed for money and material items paved in capitalistic mindsets? It seems like we have lost our ability of choice and option within the hustle and bustle of excitement, entertainment and excess. With that in mind, probably one of the most famous balancing theories was found in the USA and UK in late 20th century- the concept of WORK-LIFE-BALANCE. It implies a particular time structure to manage individual areas allocated for work and other aspects of life, such as family, social activities or personal interest. Its recent origin is most likely linked to a modification of traditional working habits. On the basis of technological innovations, we are no longer depending on a “regular” time structure. The internet has made it possible for us to refuse a “9 to 5” job, get rid of annoying work routines that actually kill flexibility, creativity and innovation. Today’s vocational landscape allows to create individual working habits. The use of smartphones, video-chat, e-Mail and many other technological innovations enable 24-hour working cycles. Having said this, in a social system, in which we - to a large amount - define and identify ourselves through jobs, how often would you choose to refuse work?
To begin with, let us have a look at the linguistic background of the term balance. The word “balance” derives from late Latin bilancis and Latin bilanx, being put together by two word elements, bis meaning “twice”, in this case “two”, and lanx meaning “plate” or “scale”, therefore concluding to “two-scaled”. It was often used in a geopolitical sense as in “balance of power”. Probably, its most common connection is found in the figurative use of a scale within the “balance of justice”, indicating an individuals risk while being in the hands of its personification. Another, far more present subject of matter, is seen in the “balance of trade”, describing the relation between import and export goods of a nations. Wether it is the balance of power in which two nations correspond to each other, or the balance of justice in which the subject of matter relies on fairness, its deep purpose is to bring two elements into harmony. To encourage a more detailed picture of this groundwork, I would like to involve the studies of an ancient Greek philosopher - Aristoteles.
In ancient Greek philosophy, particularly found in the studies of Aristoteles, the main idea of its teaching describe the desire of finding balance. Aristoteles used the terms finding the “golden mean” or the “golden middle way”, also presented as the desirable middle between two extremes. It was the extreme of excess and deficiency, attributes roughly seen and experienced nowadays. Aristoteles describes his thoughts of keeping the extremes in balance by using the following selection of words. His viewpoint of courage was described as virtue, but taking it to excess leads to recklessness, its deficiency to cowardice. Hence, according to Aristoteles studies, finding the middle way was true virtue, or in other words competence and efficiency. Tracing back to Greek mentality, writings state that finding the “golden mean” was seen as an attribute of beauty. Beyond that, ancient Greeks believed in a strong association in mathematics between beauty and truth, which results in a particular formula: the three main elements of beauty are found in 1. symmetry, 2. proportion and 3. harmony. What is more, beauty was seen as an object of love. Hence, its imitation and reproduction was deeply implemented in their lives, for instance performed in architecture, politics and education (paidia, todays pedagogy). The sum of all personal as well as social activities is judged by this specific kind of mentality - keeping the extremes balanced according to symmetry, proportion and harmony.
To make these thoughts a more current subject of matter, the following image presents the BALANCING WHEEL, in which Aristoteles foundation of finding the “golden mean” (following symmetry, proportion and harmony) connects to modern social demands and individual tasks.
the balancing wheel
The BALANCING WHEEL describes, when keeping not only work duties but most significant all other life aspects in symmetry (blue headlines) and taking care of its proportions (red description), the wheel, a metaphor for life, starts spinning. In this way we enable harmony to evolve. As a result the BALANCING WHEEL is able to move back and forth in its very individual rhythm - today often called FLOW - the beauty of life.
To garnish your thoughts with some more imaginative ideas, I would like to refer to one of the earliest presentation in Greek mythology of this kind. The Greek culture offers plenty of mythological legends. Those tales want to describe life on its meta-level-perspective. Moreover, they enable a rather objective viewpoint, as far as this is possible, and create a foundation for self-reflection and self-evaluation. The following mythological legend descends from Crete and it involves Daedalus, a famous artist of this time, and his son Icarus. Daedalus wanted to escape from the Minoan empire and King Minos restrictions, so he built feathered wings using wax for him and his son. Trying to flee, Daedalus told his son to “fly the middle way” right between the deep waters of the sea and the sun’s extraordinary heat. While Icarus started flying, he did not heed his fathers advice. He flew to close to the sun, which caused his wings to melt. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.
This short mythological piece of art symbolizes balance to its fullest. If you choose to live by the extremes, you will drown. Though if you choose the middle way, YOU WILL FLY!
Find your “golden mean” and have a balanced CW #15.