I have believed for as long as I can remember that the secret to life is balance. The balance of understanding others pain without allowing them to take advantage of you. The balance of living in the moment and still planning for the future. The balance of having enough without depriving yourself or overindulging. The balance of taking care of others without forgetting yourself. The balance of pursuing dreams while remembering the responsibilities of reality. The balance of being open to other's ideas and still standing firm in your own. In all of life there are extremes and in my experience a full life doesn't exist on either end of the spectrum. Perhaps this is what teenage rebellion is all about, jumping out of one extreme into the other. As we mature we find the right balance of the two extremes and we have to find it on our own. Life isn't a math lesson, there is no absolute zero; we all must find our own place of balance. I think all of life is pursuit of the perfect balance so I don't think any of us can ever find it completely; I do think I'm much closer than I was a decade ago. Hopefully the next decade will bring me even closer.
I've received many quizzical looks when I talk about the balance of life, I usually just drop it because people don't seem to understand what I mean. Since everyone's journey is different it didn't seem like something I needed to discuss or find someone to commiserate with in order to achieve for myself. But imagine my pleasant surprise the other day when discussing unschooling with a friend she mentioned balance. *waves to Karen* And she even went on to say that she thought balance was important in all of life. Well color me happy, I'm not the only one.
This led me on a pursuit of balance in our unschooling journey. Up to this point we've been deschooling a lot. I have shed most of the ideas about learning and education that I spent a great deal of time and money developing. I have come to see dance as equal to math (though I doubt I'll ever get to a point that I see anything as equal to reading but I digress). I get it now. But wait, I still feel off balance.
The seed of realization that we weren't quite there yet was planted when I read Guerilla Learning. I quoted in a previous post the idea that true freedom isn't the freedom to do nothing or to follow every whim but the freedom to commit to something. This idea has been bouncing around with me since I first read it. Then today, sparked by the conversation about balance I decided to see what some unschoolers I admire had to say on the topic. Sandra Dodd actually had an article about balance that summed it up beautifully. You can read the full article here.
I see now that the reason the last month or so hasn't felt good is because I've been out of balance. School, rigid schedules, checklists, textbooks, etc. weren't right for us but in turning away from those things I had gone to the other extreme. I don't really regret it because I think it was part of the deschooling process for us. I had A LOT of deschooling to do because as a former public school teacher I was much more enmeshed with the school culture than most. It was a little like the first party my parents let me go to... I had to get really really drunk to understand that I could push my parents limits but only so far without really regretting it. I think rebelling against school was kind of like that teenage rebellion against my parents and just like then I may have had to go to far to understand what "too far" really was. Time to sober up.