• Jan Rybeck

Balancing at the Edge

I am told that balance is important at my age.

So far, aging has been mostly an enlightening process of letting go and picking up.

Letting go of a need to achieve has created space for tuning into what fulfills.

Holding more lightly to a sense of identity has allowed for new ways of being.

And a vestigial fear of failing has given way to a very real fear of falling.

Balance used to be a source of pride. Before my world was rocked by boys, puberty, and the world beyond my safe suburban home, my life was gymnastics. Leaping, turning, and flipping on a 4-inch wide beam was what I did every weeknight and most weekends until a bad injury took me out of play at 17.

My athletic training made me strong, flexible, even a bit fearless. But what has stayed with me all these decades is a visceral sense of what it means to balance.

You can’t really have balance. You can however, be balancing.

Balance is an act, a process, an effort of continually coming back to center in nano-moments of alignment. It’s just not something you can hold onto and count on.

While it may look like a gymnast has balance as she turns, leaps, and flips her way through a routine, she is constantly negotiating the edges between what feels right and what does not.

Not unlike what it takes to be in this world.

Edges invite us into the “both/and-edness” of being alive. It is where we reckon with the truths on both sides while we navigate a path forward. At the edge we come up to that place where comfort meets courage. Where we come back to what matters, what is worth our time, attention, and name our “no’s” in order to claim a clear yes.

Edges provide the liminal space for exploring what is both possible and plausible. It’s the messiness where solid ground turns into fertile muck for new growth to take root.

When I am balancing at the edge, I am reminded how experience is never constant, rather it is in constant flux between left and right, up and down, back and forth, inside and out. Being off balance is a call to be attentive and alive to it all in order to continually find and re-find where I need to be.

Which is a good thing because it’s not always easy to know what’s what in a world of constant change, growth, and aging.

And it’s at the edge we meet up with the ultimate balancing act, navigating that line between what is and what can be.

What are the edges that define you? If you are not sure, consider how do you like to be seen by others? What is your idea of success? What consumes your energy?

·How do those edges limit you? If you are not sure, consider when things frustrate you, what values, ideals, or beliefs do they push against? How do you hold yourself back?

·What might be on the other side of the edge for you? If you are not sure, consider, what do you envy or compare yourself to? What might that tell you about what you care about or are interested in beyond where you are now? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

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