On Finding Balance


In Eastern cultures, there is a lot of focus on the various elements of our earth. And in relation to these elements, we as humans mirror these traits, and have energy that is aligned with them. So identifying them in ourselves is a good thing, so we can find balance

In Texas, all that sounds like hippie talk. “I ain’t similar to no metal,” they say. “Take your voodoo down to Austin and shove it. Here we’ll talk about 9 mm pistols and ribs.” But hear me out, my southern people. We have fallen out of balance, and we need to open ourselves up more to the honesty about the world around us. Plus a 9 mm is made of metal. Just sayin.

I am not very holistic. I admit that. I like champagne and expensive heels. I eat too much refined sugar. I tell myself I’m going to eat kale, but instead I eat brisket, the edges burned and crispy. But when you really think about it, we all have characteristics that mirror our earth – the precious soil that God created, the wind that scatters the seed. The storms in which God quelled and the skyscrapers that evidence our ingenious minds. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the way in which we are built. The earth and the souls of our hearts are intertwined.

I think about my eclectic group of friends. Independent of each other, we are bold or rooted or abrasive or calming. Some need therapy. Oh wait. That’s me. But together we form a sort of harmony, each of us giving something the others need. And I think about our community, and our neighborhood. One family is Catholic and another Muslim. One is isn’t into dogs and another is. One likes to leave Christmas lights up all freaking year. Not that I’m bitter.

Think about wind. These are dreamers, swaying in and out of things. But they also have a brilliant hyperactive mind, good at storytelling and dancing. I have allergies, so wind makes me grumpy. Also, I don’t like to be directed off course. I attended college in the south plains of Texas, where the fury of wind would bear down upon the land, scooping up the dirt and throwing it in my face. I would pull my coat around me and my eyes would sting.

We cannot live in a world with only wind, blowing us about like gum wrappers.

And then there is water. People who reflect this element are self-sufficient and contained, but sometimes hidden and at times fearful. As for me, my mouth is parched. I am always making sure there is bottled water around, in the car, on a trip. I’ll stop, I’ll be late, I’ll delay things, to go back for it. As if I never have enough. When yet I write about water it’s all consuming and often filled with dread, as if I am scared of the way it pulses and the waves disrupt things. I hate the way my lungs seize when I swim long distances, as if I cannot get enough air inside of me, and the power of water scares me. I like to see the rain come down slow and steady.

We cannot survive a world with only water, with no firm ground to place our feet.

I wish I was more feminine as the earth element reflects. More nurturing, more supportive. Relaxed and poised. I have to make a conscious effort at this, when my mind and heart is at odds. I’m often just a ball of twisted knots. There are times at night, when I am sitting with my son, or reading to my daughter, that I am more earth-like, and it feels so sweet and special, and I think “how can I nurture this quality so I can express it better for them?” Although I hate mom jeans. I’m not gonna lie.

But we cannot live in a world of only earth, its dry crusty surface without fruit.

There is also metal. People who reflect metal like structure, order, reason, and discipline. I could use some more of these qualities, since my dishes are never clean and my pantry is in a state of woeful disarray. I am always in awe of how structure comes so naturally for them. It never even occurred to me to put things back in their original package, or to keep things up in slow steady increments instead of letting them pile up like a heap of leaves. I say that organized people are boring, but secretly I’m just jealous.

But a world of only metal would be a sad lonely place, void of life.

There is also the element of fire. These people love sensation, drama, sentiment. They are fueled by being around people, and yet they can rage too hot. I love to be in the presence of fire. It’s warming, and radiates, and it’s a different type of heat. And yet one time a fire burned down our back shed because it got out of control, and could not be contained. Three fire trucks showed up and I freaked out, running out of our house with two kids and a bag filled with granola bars and diapers. Because of course if our house burned down I certainly needed granola bars. WTH.

A world of only fire is a sun, which burns only to give light to others.

Wood is my element. I love wood in a strange way some people love chocolate bars or American Idol. My house is saturated in neutral, and it gives me great peace. I am drawn to carved things. I relate so well to the imagery of a tree with branches, giving life and love. I am tall. I feel rooted, and can perform well under pressure. And yet the wind bothers me, and I’m filled with allergies and prone to eye conditions and headaches. But the thought of spreading my branches and reaching to the sky, birds still atop my outstretched arms, makes me feel happy. Not that literally I want birds on my arms. Because that’s weird.

A world cannot survive packed only with trees. We need rivers and bluebirds and constellations and thunderstorms. For even trees need rain and light. They need a metal saw to prune their branches. They need wind to blow off the dead leaves and allow the earth to be a resting place. And sometimes, even wood needs to be burned.

Living inside of one element is not a balanced life. We have to at times gather from others, and learn from them. It’s not about simply co-existing, but actually embracing differences. Except for those neighbors who refuse to take down their Christmas lights.

Today, on my hike, I grabbed a rock and squeezed in hard in my hand. I kept squeezing the sharp edges until I could feel pangs of hurt on my skin, sharp edges into the soft. I imagined the blood inside of me, thick and red. I was thankful for how the water I drank ran down in all my weak places, filling me up. And I braved the wind, because it’s part of things, and this is what Claritin is for. I climbed into my metal car and drove home with the windows down.

We are all interconnected. The earth, humanity, our various souls. I hope we can look at our earth as a patchwork of different elements, all working together for good. Otherwise we remain forever leaning, forever off balance, forever incomplete.

We need each other. Otherwise we would be blowing forever in the breeze, across the sea, just a metal pipe rolling along the dry, parched earth. Nothing but dust in the wind.

Let’s embrace each other for what we bring to the world, instead of chastising each other for being so different.




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