Balancing Act

At 9:30 a.m. this morning I was sitting on a hill in a lean-to, rain pouring down around me, yellow leaves scattering in the cold wind. I wasn't alone. My companion is the director of a local wilderness education center and I was speaking with him about, what else, internships. What I love about my job is that I learn all about what other people do for work and how they got there.

So there I am, little miss hate to camp, hanging out with Rambo/The Fugitive having an existential conversation about how people are killing themselves and the planet. By the time I left I was ready to sell my house and move the three of us to a closet-sized cabin in the woods.

I'm just like most Americans, especially of my generation, killing my grandchildren to give the most to my child. It's hard not to think about our impact on the environment. It's easier not to really care. Invention often brings us one step forward and two steps back. I'm not going to lie, I'm a big fan of frozen food and single servings. I love my truck and the convenience of disposable diapers, bibs and sippy cups. We just started recycling glass and plastic this summer. We are big-time consumers and I feel guilty about it but don't do much to change my habits.

The wilderness man and I spoke at length about his cause. What inspired me is that he has found is authentic vocation. When people ask him why he does what he does, he tells them he doesn't know what else to do. How do those of us focusing on everything else find balance in our lives? And how do we do it without the effort being superficial or trendy?

We also discussed another topic close to my heart. The more reliant I've become on technology, the more annoyed I am by it. Wilderness man asked me, how someone can have 350 friends on facebook and not have one real "friend"? When he asked me that, an awful image popped into my head: me and Andy, at night. I'm on the couch, hunched over the laptop and he's in the chair, practically super-glued to his. The TV is on. A million words could be, and need to be, shared between the two of us and instead we are typing away, trying to make a connection with someone who we've never met or haven't seen in 15 years, about a topic irrelevant to our current lives. Is it more important that Andy twitter about a new non-profit or that I tell all of my facebook friends that I'm "excited about the debate tonight" or "hungry and tired after working all day" or should Andy and I be telling one another about our days, mapping out our budget or tackling a house project together?

Life is about balance. We have to figure out how to balance work and home, job and play, friends and family. At the same time, we need to find a balance with our environment and individual needs and desires. I'm glad today to have Wilderness Man remind me that life is about more than me and I am the change I want to see in the world.

I should probably go now. I'm having a hard time finishing this up while I watch Dr. Phil and talk to Andy on the phone about all the things we didn't talk about last night.


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