“He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward.”

— Harry Emerson Fosdick

How often do we careen through life and struggle to move in a straight line, all because we forget the importance of balance?  We are told the value of achievement, of motion, of doing, of acquiring things; but we lose sight of the need to maintain ourselves in the midst of our desire to achieve and progress.  The pace of living in the 21st century is so fast that we sometimes forget to breathe.

Our ancestors lived a lifestyle that involved human beings completing the steps in a logical progression in order to gather and prepare food, to assure there was shelter and warmth, and to see that they were clothed.  There was no electricity, so they rose with the sun and worked hard, knowing that when the sun set that they, too, would begin their night of rest.  There were no television shows to watch, no computers to distract them, no internet to surf until the wee hours of the morning.  There was no stressful commute to and from work, no malls filled with tantalizing objects to buy, no credit card payments to cause worry and keep them awake.

I used to think about how difficult life must have been for my great-grandparents as they homesteaded in the midwest.  There were harsh winters to survive.  There were hot summers when farming was a challenge.  The hard work made their bodies strong, but the lack of medical knowledge meant that they often lived shorter lives than we do now.  We no longer work with our bodies the way our ancestors did.  We lead lives that are far easier in many respects; but now we must schedule exercise and add more hours to our days in order to stay fit.  Electricity and technology have extended daylight to twenty-four hours, and we no longer put ourselves to bed when the sun goes down.

Balancing life is more difficult in the 21st century.  Our ancestors may have needed more physical endurance to complete their day’s work, but we need to pay closer attention to balancing our lives and assuring our well-being.  We must develop the self-discipline to see that we balance our fast-paced workday with enough sleep to renew our bodies.  We must have the wisdom not to accumulate more than we can manage — to lay down some of the things that burden us before we pick up something new, to be sure we are solidly standing before we begin to run.  Balance in all we do will assure that we succeed, both in productivity and in personal well-being.