Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The balance act...

Lately I've been feeling somewhat stagnant in action but active in thought. Plans for the near and distant future are a constant bombardment on my thought process. Its a frustrating and anxious feeling, but its exciting at the same time. I often tend to write about specific ideas or experiences, so this time I thought I'd open up a little more and share some of the more general thoughts that I've been having...

My zodiac sign is Libra, the scale, implying balance and stability. I think that I fit this description perfectly; I believe that I am the quintessential Libra, and where I am not, I strive to be.

Meden Agan - 'Nothing in excess'.

Aristotle said that "The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom." Indeed, I believe that moderation in everything is the key to both a happy life and a just world for everyone. This maxim applies to the finer, minute aspects of everyday life, from the food that we eat to the activities that we partake in. Yet it is just as applicable on a grander scale, from the way our societies operate to the way we interact with nature.

For me balance and moderation make things so much more enjoyable. By limiting my exposure or intake of a certain element, I come to enjoy whatever that element may be even more. Furthermore, when I practice moderation with everything in my life, it leaves me with more time and space to try new things.

I'll try to use some very personal examples to illustrate my point.
Travel for me is a part of finding a balance between the close-minded, consumer culture here in Canada and the global view of life that can only be gained through experience abroad. I feel as though my life seems to lack meaning and adventure when I remain in the same place for too long, so once I start to get anxious I try to ignore those inhibitions that our society has instilled upon me and I take off. That being said, I can't completely abandon this society, I can't ignore the impositions of capitalism. I therefore try to balance my travels with meaningful work and with small endeavors to make and save money wherever possible. I try to engage in my traveling in a sustainable manner that benefits the people of the place to which I am visiting. The balanced traveler should be a pragmatic idealist, open-minded and altruistic, but wise to the world in which they live.
Surfing acts as another important balance for me. Whenever I find myself away from the ocean for a long period of time I get anxious, so I make my way to the coast to escape and catch some waves. Whenever I live on the coast however, I find that I lack meaning in my life, that I am not contributing enough to the change that I want to see in the world. Although surfing is an activity that unites like minded people globally, it too often represents a self-involved and often parochial lifestyle. The quintessential soul-surfer is one deeply in touch with nature, conscientious of their impact on the environment and of their relation to the world and the universe as a whole. I applaud such attributes, but surfers of such stature are few and far between, and too often surfers get caught up in the care-free, beach living, fringe lifestyle that epitomizes the "surfer". Too often surfers simply sit back and enjoy the waves, without ever contemplating the privileged nature of such an activity, or the sacredness of the ocean and the environment. Surfing has certainly changed my life in positive ways, and it is something that will remain important to me for the rest of my life, but I cannot justify devoting my life solely to such a pursuit, it must be balanced. I see surfing as the perfect complement to a life of travel and activism, to a life devoted to affecting change in this world. Both surfing and traveling, because of their global scope and their proximity to nature, are ideal starting points to the conscious shift that this world needs. But balance is key; surfers and travelers around the world must look beyond the allure of the surfing lifestyle or the luxury hotels and begin to balance such things with conscientious, contributory living.

Let's look at something a little more general now. Like everyone else born into this society, I often consider my position within capitalism, and I admittedly feel the necessity of someday making a decent amount of money. I recognize that this is more a result of societal conditioning than it is of human need, but I cannot completely shed such a condition, for I am but a product of the society into which I was born. It is therefore imperative that society changes radically in order for individuals to follow suit, but radical change does not necessitate radical action. I'm a socialist at heart, and I believe in a society free of great inequalities and injustices, but I believe that such fundamental change will come about pragmatically and democratically. Albeit, radical activism is a necessary force to keep society on its toes, and maybe even to wake people up, but such action will only briefly interrupt the deep slumber of the masses, it requires a fine balance with pragmatic politics on the other end of the scale. The conscious shift that is necessary in order for this world to change will come about when people start to find balance in their lives and with this world.
I believe that capitalism has its merits and that people should certainly reap the rewards of their labour, but I don't think that anyone needs to be a millionaire, and I think that people need to reconsider what they actually want and need in life. We have the resources in this world to provide for everyone the basic necessities of life and a few luxuries as well. Finding the balance that will enable such equality however, is beyond the reach of capitalism in its current form, for capitalism is fundamentally and inherently adverse to the notion of moderation.

I realize that in my effort to emphasize the importance that I place on balance and moderation, I've digressed a little into my political and world views and into a lecturing tone. This simply serves to illustrate the virtuous nature of moderation, and the potential effects it could have on individuals and this world as a whole. I am not completely balanced myself, in fact I'm sure that I do many things in excess, but I'm conscientious of this and I strive to moderate in every way possible.

We all can find balance and moderation in our lives, and when more people start to realize this, the better off we will all be.