X is for balance. No, really.

This month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, drawing from my “Grab Bag of Delectable and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments.”

X is a nice, reassuring letter, isn’t? Discerning–you can’t make any old word with X, no, indeed. Both feet planted firmly on the ground, both arms raised to greet you with joy and celebration. None of the other letters are ever quite so happy to see me coming. I’m not saying they don’t have their own delightful qualities; I’m just saying that X is pretty special.

Another thing about X is how well-balanced it is. I, T and Y have a pleasing symmetry too, but you don’t get that satisfying feeling of solidity from them as they perch on their pedestals. A strong wind, you feel, might tip them right over. This is even more of an issue with wobbly old V.

There’s always A, but I don’t know. That pointy head smacks ever so slightly of aggression, which is also true of M, I’m afraid, and W with it’s points reversed. You’ll be saying, hey, what about H? Now there’s balance for you. And solidity. True, very true. But there’s something a bit too solid about H’s balance. It’s stolid, isn’t it? A bit too…I don’t know. Uninventive, perhaps. Unwelcoming, even. You get the feeling that H could take or leave you, doesn’t really care whether you show up at the alphabetory gathering or not.

No, X is the clear frontrunner when it comes to balance. And if you’re looking for balance, acceptance, and unfettered joie de vivre, X is your letter.

The only problem with X is that there just isn’t enough of it to go around. We only have to look to the headlines to know that our world, our countries, our cities are clearly out of alignment. War, genocide, rape, torture, police brutality, gang murders, people living in the direst of poverty while others send iPads to their wedding guests in lieu of invitations, teens bullying teens to death, both sides in every “armed conflict” slaughtering civilians like they’re so many bubbles in a Pop-It game, atrocity upon atrocity, hate upon hate.

So, yes. More X, please. Anytime now would be good. Both feet on the ground, arms up and open in celebration, acceptance and awareness. More of that.

I leave you with just one interwebby wonderment today: this short animated film, Balance, by twin brothers Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein.

I is for Isosceles

During the month of April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge posts will focus on 26 of the things that have inspired me as a writer or that I’ve learned as I stumble my way toward becoming a writer. Clicky-click on the link to read some of the other bloggers who are participating in the April madness.

Don’t panic. This isn’t going to be a geometry lesson, I promise. And it’s not just an excuse to use the word “isosceles” either, although who among us wouldn’t seize every opportunity they could to use it? Especially the opportunity to say it aloud–so very trippy off the tongue.

No, this post is about balance, about finding time for our creative passions whilst (another fun word) trying to juggle the challenges and responsibilities of work, family, and walking the pooch/scooping the cat poo/keeping the cupboards stocked with sustenance.

It’s no easy task, finding that balance, and if you do manage to find it, maintaining it doesn’t come easily either. I conceptualize this ongoing pursuit of balance as an isosceles (go on, say it out loud, you know you want to!) triangle.

On the one side–the right side, let’s say–you have the day to day demands on your time. Family, work, home. All the usual suspects. The stuff that keeps the living-your-life boat afloat. Sometimes it’s stuff that’s delightful and rewarding. Sometimes it’s stuff that makes you want to curl up under the blankies and sleep for two months.

On the other side, the left side, you have your creative passion(s). In my case, that’s writing. For you it might be writing too, or perhaps it’s, I don’t know, painting murals, or taking photographs of the underbellies of old automobiles, or knitting sweaters for badgers out of odd bits of string.

It could be that your creative passions have a more scientific or technological bent. Maybe you find creative joy trying to solve the P vs. NP problem or building the fastest, spinniest skateboard known to humankind. Or perhaps your creative passion lies in slapping a hockey puck down the ice through an oncoming horde of brawn and sticks straight past the grasping mitts of the opposing team’s goalie. Creativity is nothing if not versatile.

That leaves the base. That nice solid line spread out along the bottom of the triangle providing stability and safety to the other two sides. It represents our foundation. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our goals and purpose. Our emotional well-being and readiness to fight for our dreams.

You see how in the purple triangle–the isosceles triangle–these two elements of your life are in perfect balance. This doesn’t necessarily equate to spending equal amounts of time on both sides of the triangle. Rather, it means that finding enough time and emotional energy to meet fulfill the goals you’ve set in each, meet the obligations of each, and find fulfillment in each. a. Remember the last time that happened? Yeah. That’s right. Approximately never.

And that’s okay. It’s nigh on impossible to live a perfectly isosceles life, unless you’re fortunate enough to get paid for indulging in your creative passion. Most of the time our triangle is going to be weighted a little more in one direction than another.  We know what direction that’s going to be, don’t we? For most of us, family and work and cat poo are almost always going to have an edge over painting pink tutus on photographs of firefighters.

That’s normal. Natural. Nothing to get our knickers in a twist over. As long as we’re achieving most of our creative goals, enough to keep that inner glow glowing, enough to make us believe in our dreams, we can work with a scalene triangle. We just need to be mindful to keep nudging our sides back towards that isosceles ideal. Because if we don’t, if we lose track of our base (our hopes, goals, ideals; our emotional well-being), the result is going to be this, where top line represents your shrunken foundation turned on its head, the long slangy side is your dreams going down the toilet and the perpendicular side is the boring, rigid regimen of blah your life has become: