Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Life in Balance

There was a lot of talk among my widow friends about looking for a “new normal” after our husbands died. When Mat died, every last thing about my life changed: how I slept, ate, and spent my time, where I went, who I talked to, what I read, what I dreamed about, even what I wore (more on that in another post).

It’s harder to think of things that didn’t change than that did.

I’ve been looking for this new normal for a long time now and haven’t quite found it. For one thing, I don’t really want to accept my life the way it is so I don’t want to call it normal. For another thing, life is a never-ending series of smallish gains and losses. Take my kids’ development. I lost the adorable babies I had when my boys became toddlers. I gained bright, inquisitive, elementary school children at the same time that I lost impulsive pre-schoolers. The sensitive fifth grader that I knew how to relate to has been replaced by a teenager who sometimes is sweet but sometimes is a monster.

What if there is no normal?

My friend Corey asked me this question the other day. What if the second we think we’ve found our footing, the ground shifts under our feet again? Maybe it’s not a 10 on the Richter scale, but there’s enough of a tremor to threaten our balance.

Since the big one, there have been lots of other big and small gains and losses in life: a new car, finding a hilarious new friend, a vacation in Hawaii with my brother, inadvertently straining a relationship with a friend with a careless comment, unexpectedly struggling with faith, the end of a once-hopeful new relationship.

Welcome to life on a balance board.

A balance board is a deck, very much like a skateboard deck, that sits on a tapered cylinder (inexplicably called a rock). The goal is to balance on the deck as it sits atop the rock -- remember this is a round object that rolls back and forth -- constantly making the small adjustments necessary to keep from falling over. Mat was a snowboarder, and his balance board helped him stay in shape during the off season.

Theoretically, as you improve, you can use the tapered ends of the rock to practice snowboarding moves like toe turns and heel turns. And jumps and spins and ollies.

I wouldn’t know, because just standing on the balance board takes all the concentration and leg and core strength I can muster. I suppose if I were able to find the exact center of the board and keep my body perfectly still, then I could rest on the board. Stand on it without having to work.

But this is not the way the world works. There is an exact center, but the rock is not a stable object. It rolls back and forth, and there is gravity, and I can’t stay perfectly still, and so I have to constantly slide the deck over the rock from one side of the center to the other, always going through the center but never able to stay.

If life is a balance board, then looking for normal is a fool’s errand.

If life is a balance board, then the only thing for it is to develop some serious core strength.


Dana said...

CORE STRENGTH! Love that concept!

Sarah Rodgers said...

Loved this post. Definitely core strength. As an adult who lost their dad as a child, I too feel like I am on a snowboard of sorts. It is not the same as the mom. My mom has had to pass through so much sadness and strength gaining situations, I can't imagine what her life is like. But she is for sure a very strong woman. She is getting remarried in November, and that has become a new balancing act for me. It opened up similar feeling so what you felt when you visited Mat's house where he grew up in hopes that somehow he might be there. I was always hoping my dad would somehow be there in the person my mom would remarry. But he wasn't, and that is okay. Time to start training for the next change. I love you guys and will always be praying for you. Take care!