Thursday, September 23, 2010


My grandson is almost five now.
Time flies.
Since close to the beginning of his life I’d been taking him out regularly for some grandpa/grandson time. It started by just taking him out in his own back yard, and then it gradually worked into his dad bringing him to meet me at the park for some playtime. Eventually he was old enough for his parents to be comfortable with me taking him places alone. You know how that process goes.

From the time he became confident enough to walk around I’d spend as much time outside with him as possible. And during our outings I’d always make sure to spend some of that time walking with him on logs, on rocks, or curbs, low retaining walls, planter boxes, lines on the pavement, or whatever else required focus, and, ultimately, balance. My grandson loved doing it. He liked the challenge, and he liked the continuing development of his balance. As a father would, I know my son was doing many of the same things with him as well. Mom too.
And others.

When stepping up onto a log, or something, I’d always take my grandson’s hand and encourage him to ‘find your balance’. He enjoyed the concept of ‘balance’, was visibly pleased when he’d ‘find’ it, and even more pleased when I’d let go of his hand and he still had his balance. If he’d start to lose it I’d encourage him to ‘keep your balance’. He would concentrate, focus, and, ultimately, regain the balance that he was in jeopardy of losing. Sure, he’d lose it sometimes in the beginning, but grandpa was there to catch him, or at least to soften his fall, and he knew that. It led to him being able to readjust his balance during the fall so that he would either land on his feet, or minimize the effect of the landing. It was a lot of fun watching, and being part of, this important development in his life.

A couple of months ago I took my grandson to the park with his bike. We took his training wheels off. Actually, feeling ready to take on the challenge of balancing the bike on his own, he took the wheels off himself. I just provided the wrench.

It was fun seeing him find his balance on the bike, drawing on all the experience he’d had on the logs, the rocks, the curbs, retaining walls, planter boxes, and lines on the pavement. It was satisfying to see that when he began to lose his balance he’d usually find a way to keep it. Sometimes he couldn’t, but even then he would orchestrate a pretty graceful landing, often laying the bike down while he stepped off of it, or kind of sliding on the grass in unison with it. We practiced the dismounts as much as the riding. And he was as proud of a successful landing as he was of a successful ride.

A week or two later his dad sent me a video of my grandson riding his bike like an old pro. Both dad and son were excited, and proud of the accomplishment. It was pretty cool. Made me smile, and made me laugh out loud.

OK now, here’s what I’m getting at. And you’ve got to admit you knew I was going somewhere with this. That’s what I do.

There is a natural balance in life. We see, and experience it, in nature. It is a very important aspect of life, an aspect that, if missing from our own lives, leaves us at the mercy of the emotional, psychological, and physical elements of its absence.

In one’s personal life nobody just happens upon balance, or finds it by accident. There is a process of ‘finding’ it, just as there was with my little grandson. And then there is the practice of ‘keeping’ it. Finding, and keeping. Both require some knowledge, some wisdom, and some experience. Experience produces knowledge. Knowledge, when blended with experience, generates wisdom. Wisdom enables us to measure intangibles. And it gives us the wherewithal to deal with them.

Intangibles are the part of life we have to face within ourselves. They are the inner challenges that we must face alone, without grandpa being there to hold us up, or soften our fall. They are the inner demons we must confront, the assaults on our belief system that we must contend with, the moral and ethical dilemma’s we must reflect upon, and the secret places we harbor that we must be willing to illuminate to, and for, ourselves.
And they are the character issues that we must conquer.

Once you truly find balance it becomes something you never wish to lose. One eventually learns that a steady ride is much more satisfying than a continuing series of unforeseen, but otherwise predictable mishaps.

Only as we are willing to embrace the process will we be successful in finding our balance. And only as we are willing to practice that balance will we be successful in keeping it.

You know what I’m talking about.