Did you ever dream of finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? I did. If you (like me) tried to find this mythical pot of gold, you may have noticed that the “end” of the rainbow seems attainable until you approach it, and then it seems ever-elusive or just disappears. Through the beauty of science, we can know that a rainbow is actually a complete circle, thus having no beginning and no end—no place for a pot of gold.
More often then not when I talk with others about life struggles, I find that we have replaced the rainbow myth with a new, more “grown-up” myth: balance. Now before you shut down on me or go off on me (or both…), hear me out. I do not think that balance is actually a myth. The problem is, we are seeing balance incorrectly, just like when we look for the end of a rainbow. We think that balance is some form of stasis that we can attain and everything will be right with the world (our pot of gold). This is the myth.
In reality, balance is a constant flux. Balance, much like the circle of water droplets reflecting light we call a rainbow, is conditional. Balance shifts and changes with each situation, requiring constant adjustment in order to be maintained. To illustrate this, consider the following YouTube video:
(For those who can’t see it, this is a video of a woman named Faith Dickey from Texas who is in Croatia, balancing on a rope strung between two trucks driving along an empty highway at speeds of about 50mph, approaching a tunnel. She must walk across the rope to the other truck before they get to the tunnel. It is pretty intense. Volvo made it into a commercial.)
In a subsequent interview with Faith, she shares some of her secrets for this amazing feat. “You have to keep your back really straight,” she says, “This is really important ‘cause it helps center your weight over the line. You also want your feet to be in the same direction as the line—so walking forwards, not to the side. Not only that, but your arms are always in the air. Those are acting as your balancing pole. So when your weight shifts one way, you want to counteract that by throwing your arms to the other side.”
So what do you do to find and maintain balance between two trucks moving at 50 miles per hour?
Faith replies, “There was a really strong wind coming from this side, so it felt like it was pushing me over this way. So I was trying to stay really straight and lean against the wind a little bit—so that I kept my body straight rather than falling off in that direction. Not only that, but I wasn’t the one shaking the line…It was the trucks and the road. It would shake without me knowing where the shake was coming from and I had to adjust really quickly.”
Experts say that what makes this trick work is something called frames of reference. The trucks are moving at the same speed and so is Faith. So technically, it’s just like doing this trick in a parking lot, only with howling winds. The trick, according to Faith, is constant adjustment.
Maybe we think of balance as simply a graceful walk across a beam like we see beautiful performers do with ease. Their adjustments and corrections are barely discernible as they maintain their steady pace from point A to point B. Seeing Faith Dickey’s balancing act across the trucks, I could see her small adjustments a bit more clearly.
We are all seeking balance because we understand that without it we fall. But even when we fall, we must get back up. Some days, our balancing acts are over nets in peaceful practice sessions; many times, our balancing acts are in much less-ideal circumstances and much like Faith Dickey, we must constantly adjust in order to make it across before we smash into a wall of an upcoming tunnel. In those situations, Faith’s example is so very pertinent: we must walk forward, stand straight, and constantly adjust. If we do, we will make it to where we want to be. Don’t give up!
Sometimes I feel like my life is so much like this stunt. I am trying to find–and maintain–balance amid impossible conditions. I am sure I often look very ungraceful as I try to manage my way across the tightrope, can you relate to this?