by Jane Tawel
They have taken all the see-saws away from the playgrounds. Those big old public see-saws, once found in many of our parks and playgrounds, have been relegated to history’s dust pile, in the cause of safety and fear of liability. Children’s safety is without a doubt, all well and good, but by ridding the world of teeter-totters, the proverbial “They” have robbed us of one of our earliest shared learning lessons in fairness, and absconded with one of the best animated metaphors for living a balanced life. The legendary Theys can continue to strip the playgrounds of actual see-saws, but most human beings will sooner or later be forced to discover what the motion of that out-moded children’s apparatus feels like. Our lives are often much less like that other iconic playground equipment, the spinning merry-go-round, and more like the up and down locomotion of a seesaw. We all eventually ride Life’s seesaw. In finances, fame, health, success, or relationships, or more likely, at one time or another, in all of the above, if we are lucky enough to grow up, our lives will see-saw up and down. It would be good if we could figure out the best ways to totter and teeter and fluctuate and shift and hang on for dear life, to the adult-sized parallel bars of our lives. Perhaps one of the best ways to ride the world’s teeter-totter, is something I call “Parallelism”.
As a teacher, I have taught quite a fair amount of human beings about writing. There are always certain things that are hard to explain, but which are absolutely critical to good writing. One of those necessary elements of good writing, that is difficult to describe, and which every writer struggles with, no matter how advanced, is something called, “parallelism”. In grammar terms, parallelism is defined as: a parallel structure or parallel construction. It is a balance within one or more sentences of similar phrases or clauses that have the same grammatical structure. The application of parallelism affects readability and may make texts easier to process. This is often taught in higher education when instructing in the “If-Then” method of writing and in the early stages it is important when making lists or early verbal constructions. As a writing instructor, I try to teach students that the best writing comes from not only correct sentence structure that has balance, but also from correct thoughts that have balance.
Many of us live our lives as if all we have to do is form the “If” parts of our lives and we never look at the consequential “Thens”. Far too many humans have reached a tipping point and daily we read alarming reports of the consequences of over- and under-balancing acts. Even if we are not creators of chaos or orchestrators of wars, most of us, however, need some serious adjustment to the fulcrums of our lives, adjustments of everything from our deepest held beliefs to what we will eat for lunch today. Our existence as a species may depend on learning to play well with others and ride our existential see-saw together.
The natural world has also become dangerously out-of-whack and is now at the mercy of our planetary co-existence. Unless more of us on one end of the world’s metaphoric teeter-totter begin shifting our tushies and better distribute our weight, we are going to permanently over-balance the environment of this communal playground that we call Earth. Far too many of us as individuals are living our lives as if all that gives it meaning is a bunch of poorly constructed to-do-lists or some gluttonous shopping lists or a lopsided verbiage of work-hours or the partisan arguments of politics or religion. All these lead to imbalance. Many of us will continue to feel unbalanced and unwell, unless we do some tough-minded editing. As those who may be writing the end of the story, men and women living today, absolutely must start doing vigorous rewrites on how we spend our precious moments and our precious resources. Good living, like good writing, needs constructive, well-thought out parallelism. Parallelism, in fact, may be the only way our planet will survive.
Parallelism for the individual life doesn’t have to be an Olympic-sized balance beam gymnastic event. It also isn’t for most of us an attempt to rewrite War and Peace. Finding more balance can start with reworking one simple choice you make today. It is serious, indeed, but it can begin playfully. In fact, playfulness might be the best way to re-balance ourselves. Instead of obsessing over tomes and trades and twitters, we need to get out our crayons and color. You might begin living into Parallelism by taking a moment to remember what it feels like to look at the world with child-like wonder. Balance your adult responsibilities with a child’s joy in being alive. Perhaps you could take a walk that isn’t for exercise but for wonderment. On your walk, look at trees and puddles and dandelions and make a wish on a wish flower. Instead of watching the talking-heads dissect the latest news about the latest wars, go outside, lie on your belly, and watch the unity and comradery of an army of ants. Perhaps you could eat a salad for lunch today so you can make yourself a s’more for dinner tonight. Play in the mud by tending your garden; ruin your manicure by digging into the dirt with your bare hands. Go to work wearing your hair in two pigtails today or buy lollypops for the office meeting that will make everyone’s tongues turn blue or purple or orange. Learn some silly jokes and tell them to strangers while you wait in line to check-out at the grocery. Memorize a lovely, meaningful poem and surprise your partner with a recitation of it while he is making dinner. Buy a comic book. Instead of spin class, ride a bike — with a basket on it — and a bell. Hug someone. Buy flowers and take them to someone at a nursing home. Wave and smile at the people in cars you are stuck in traffic next to. Buy a twenty-foot jump-rope and invite your friends over to jump rope. Teach them jump-roping rhymes like “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear” and “K-I-S-S-I-N-G”. Go to bed with a glass of milk and a good book and read under your covers with a flashlight. Cry in public for no reason, just because. Let someone give you a tissue to wipe away your tears. Give your allowance to charity and have no money for lunch at school that day. Let someone share half of their peanut-butter and jelly sandwich with you but don’t brag to them about why you don’t have a lunch. Send a real card in a real envelope with a real stamp to someone that you like. Send one to someone that you don’t like as much but whom you should be nicer to. Get bored. Use a pair of scissors to cut up junk mail into colorful snowflakes and hang them in your front window. Get angry about mean people and then crawl under your dining room table and have a temper tantrum. Laugh to yourself. Tell your best friend that she is, and tell her you think she is nice. Whatever you decide, begin to shift your attitude to one with more joy and like a child, be prepared to be astonished. Parallelism is not an inwards solitude seeking mindfulness, it is an outward-flowing, two-handed embrace of life. Parallelism might begin with finding a sense of inner peace or it might begin with more of us simply not stepping on the cracks and breaking the others’ backs.
Parallelism is imagining the world as a humongous teeter-totter. It is a world that only operates well if other small beings are equally distributed on it; and it is much more fun if we are playing nicely with them. This is true whether we think about see-sawing with one special person in our lives or see-sawing with communal, national, or global bodies of people. Some of us can find more balance today, by sharing more of our money with people who need it more. Maybe it’s time to join that cause, take the metro to that protest, or volunteer our day of rest to the homeless shelter. Maybe some of us need to start or end the day by rebalancing a personal relationship. Maybe you need to call up someone to ask him to forgive you for something you did. Or maybe you just need to secretly forgive someone who hurt you without ever bringing it up to her. Maybe you can change a relationship by just letting go, and by cancelling-out what you think you are owed on the balance sheet of wrongs you’ve been keeping on someone else. Maybe an opportunity will crop up unexpectedly to change the balance of a situation, and you can give in graciously the next time you are in an argument with your partner. Maybe rather than schooling her, you can let her teach you. Or maybe if you don’t have any one-dollar bills to give a homeless person, you can give her the ten in your wallet instead. Planning to re-balance things in your life is good, but having a good sense of balance so you are ready for the unexpected is even better. Doing both is the best.
Parallelism can start with choosing just one sentence of your life that you’d like to rewrite. For instance, “Today I will use less water on my lawn, so that tomorrow children may have more water to drink.” Or “If I am nasty to my co-worker, (who really is a lazy slob), then I will only make myself feel worse and it will do nothing to solve my problems with him”. Or try changing this life-sentence: “This is a new day and I am lucky to have a new start, because as long as there is life, there is hope”. Just play around rewriting one thing in your own life and by doing so, that could change your whole outlook and your whole sense of equilibrium. And then a little while later, you can choose to find a better symmetry in just one more thing. And then one more. And then one more. And then one more. Start by taking small baby-steps and you may one day wake-up to discover you have been resurrected as one of the Greats who achieved a perfect 10 on Life’s Balance Beam. But if you fail today or tomorrow you fall, just imagine that you are a child in a playground that “They” have made safe for you. Get back up, wipe away your tears, and get back on that see-saw. The more you try, the more you will discover that a healthy, loving, shared balance on the world’s rocking teeter-totter is a much better way to play life’s game. Parallelism may seem scary or pie-in-the-sky simplistic, but it is much safer and saner than a lot of the other playground equipment we seem to have chosen to play with. Finding balance within and being more equitable without is certainly more ethically fulfilling than most of what we humans have decided on and with which we litter our lives and by which we make more dangerous our planet. Parallelism is a crucial means to writing your own best life-story and it is the only way we can ensure a happily-ever-after to the story of humanity. If more of us get balanced, it might even mean that The Publisher renews our contract for future installments in mankind’s serials.
More parallelism in more of our lives would not only be good for the planet but good for our souls. The idea of parallelism is present in all of the world’s many religions and although, many skeptics would hastily point out that most self-proclaimed religious practitioners may have been said to fail spectacularly at practicing moderation and fairness, the idea of it is contained in one form or another in almost all major religious thought; and for good reason. Parallelism is ultimately and primarily a moral construct, as necessary to healthy human thought as water is to healthy human life. Fairness is an idea synonymous with balance; hence, the universal symbol of justice is the golden pair of scales. Justice or the rule of fair-play are things that all cultures, groups, and play-yard teams instinctively understand to be “right”. We will defend our right to a fair trial or even teams, even when we may disagree on what constitutes what is considered “wrong”. Unfairness or cheating may be considered smart or necessary by some cultures or individuals, but it is never considered ethical. And this desire for life to be fair is inherent and true for each human being throughout our history, no matter where we are from or when we lived. The moral basis for society to be just, is as instinctual for the one who is a religious believer as it is for the one who is an atheist. We may laugh at or fear the bully who stamps down hard on his end of the teeter-totter and knocks the kid waiting to climb up on her end on the other side, crashing the see-saw’s plank against the unsuspecting victim’s head, breaking her jaw or giving her a nasty black eye. We may even be that bully; but even the bully will never think he is being a good person for what he does. And all the kids who stand around and watch, always hope that someday the see-saw will tip the other way and the bully will get his just desserts. Everyone on the playground, the victims, the bullies, and the onlookers know from the time they can form words, that life is not fair, but that it should be. We may not grow up with seesaws in parks any more, but we all grow up with the ethics learned on the playground and the rules of fair play.
The history of humanity is rife with religions that have held up the idea of parallelism as the means to an eternally just Heaven or a perfectly satisfied Nirvana. But to riff on an old Bette Davis film, “if not heaven, at least, all this besides”. Apart from major religions, almost all of the world’s historical philosophies, communities, and cultures have taught that we must live with a sense of balance if we want a self-fulfilled and well-lived, happy existence, even if it’s only temporal. While there have been the “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” crowds, the gluttons or Epicureans that still litter the social milieus of our time have confused thought and belief with animal instinct. There are also still those who, like the monks who used to flagellate themselves, will deny themselves pleasure in order to get some perceived eternal reward, but this too, is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a good human and if there is a god, what our relationship to Her should be like. But thankfully, throughout our existence, most of the world’s surviving and sustaining Thought or worldviews, have found the truth of good living to be one of balance. As the pendulum of life swings between too much and too little, we need to find ever better ways to achieve balance as the ultimate Good. Our planet herself is warning us that unless we create a more balanced world, we will be unable to turn back Time’s pendulum.
And religions can be helpful here. The idea of a balanced life is contained in the Judeo-Christian virtue of “all things in moderation” and in “doing for others as you would have them do for you”. The idea of a balanced life is also a part of the Eastern philosophy of yin and yang and of the cause and effect see-saw of karma. Taoists teach that the way to understand nature is to understand the opposing forces within everything; and even pantheism may be said to espouse the necessary good of a rightful balance in all that exists, between Nature and the gods that inhabit Her. And so forth and so on.
Where religions often go wrong is in the same way most of us individually go wrong and that is by assuming that only one belief or way of “getting ahead” is the right way. Religions often begin simply, with child-like faith and a caring community, and then things begin to fall apart for all the same old reasons. Religions go wrong, like individuals go wrong, like games can go wrong, and like this run-on sentence has started to go wrong. When a student writes something that is unintelligible or doesn’t make the sense he or she thinks it does, most teachers will try to explain the mechanics of where the writer has gone wrong. If after many attempts the writer still doesn’t understand what to do, or worse, he still stubbornly clings to his idea that he is right, then all a teacher can do is draw a bright red-ink, squiggly line under what the teacher knows to be gibberish. Then the teacher walks away and just hopes that someday the writer can fix the problem on his or her own. Most religions and philosophies have let the Teachers walk away in frustration, while those who hypocritically benefit from keeping their religions churning out assignments, ignore the flunking grade and red-inked judgment. I am afraid though that even without any sort of religious faith, that most of us live life without ever seeing that what we believe, may in fact have another explanation or be different for someone else who lives in different circumstances than we do. We are often, in fact, hypocrites and more often, just down-right wrong; and yet we live as if we are so sure that we are right and righteous. We put our fingers on the scales of our own sense of rightness and because of that, we rarely see that we are cheating not only the world’s scales, but our own. We forget that we are meant to be Eternity’s students in a temporary Classroom and that there is always the possibility of learning a better, more balanced way of thinking, feeling and acting. Good moral teachers keep trying to teach us the difference between right and wrong, and the gods keep pointing out our human frailty; but I’m afraid most of us still stubbornly refuse to course-correct. We are, in fact, getting to a point where it may become impossible to fix all the things that have gone wrong on the planet, and gone haywire in human souls. The gods have drawn more and more bright red squiggly lines under our attempts to run a world. We seem to be flunking our assigned project of writing our world’s life-story.
I teach my students that parallelism is also critical in good writing because it is almost always necessary to have a counterweight or counter argument to one’s thesis or thoughts. It is better if the writer can include this argument and use it as an opposing point of view against her preferentially-treated thesis. It is best to do this before the other students peer-review your paper and get to gleefully point out the errors in your thought and syntax. This need to address both sides of an argument openly and objectively is a critical component of fact and fiction alike; and we would do well to adopt it as crucial to both the facts and fictions of our own lives. In stories, this push-pull is the Meta-Construct of the protagonist / antagonist conflict. In our own lives, we can imagine that we play both roles of good girl/ protagonist and bad girl/ antagonist. Being the antagonist to our own sense of entitled protagonist can prevent being unwittingly surprised or side-swiped by the unforeseen catalysts which will most definitely enter all of our stories at one time or another. Parallelism can help you see yourself both as the hero in your life story as well as your own worst enemy. Parallelism means embracing the arguments to your point of view, not ignoring them or blaming them on the incompetence of the teachers or stupidity of the other students. There is freedom in accepting that the theses on which most of base our worldviews have an angel on one shoulder arguing with a devil on the other.
People who lose balance in their lives, and especially if they lose equilibrium in their most cherished beliefs, will have largely lost the ability to consider that they might be mistaken or off-kilter or often times, plain wrong. We frequently end up protecting our own sense of worth by being harshly judgmental of others. We certainly should take to heart the balance that The Great Teacher advises when He says, “Take the plank out of your own eye, before you pick the speck of sawdust out of your neighbor’s”. We might make an equation in which one side is our sense of justice and on the other side is our sense of mercy. Mathematics is also a great way to teach an understanding of Parallelism, but in the interest of sticking to my Writing metaphor, let us just say in terms of balancing the scales of justice versus judgmentalism: Justice minus Judgmental-ism equals Goodness. Or one could do the maths of: Merciful Love + Humility > Always Being the Winner.
Today find the mathematical equations that aren’t summing up correctly in your own life. Ask yourself, “What equations of my own life are unequally balanced?” Do you maybe need to spend less and save more? Should you spend less time with that person who makes you unhappy and more time with that person who makes you feel better about life? Should there be more healthy activity on one side of your life to balance the down-time in front of the television? Would you feel more balanced if you spent less time working and more time creating? Could you add some silence to the noise? Could you subtract some worries from the plans? Could you accept a gift rather than always having to be the gift-giver?
Now stop thinking and do this simple exercise. Put your hands out in front of you. Turn one palm up towards the sky. Turn the other palm down towards the earth.
Now as you gently raise one of your palms upwards, gently push the other palm downwards. Breathe deeply in and out as you move your arms. Then flip over each of your palms so the one that was facing downwards, faces upwards and vice versa. Now move them in the opposite direction from which you just moved them, up and down. Then flip the palms over again and reverse. Repeat turning over your palms facing one toward the heavens, so to speak, and one toward “the bad place below” so to speak; and keep gently and slowly breathing in and out while moving your outstretched arms and turning your hands before you upwards and downwards. Let your mind relax and think about nothing while doing this. Later you may find in life, as you hopefully did in this exercise, the ability to let go of your preconceived thoughts and accept the natural flow of a balanced life. You may be able to finally let go of that which you thought was so important to hold up. You may find that if you have been pushing hard on someone, perhaps you need to help him out by kindly pulling him along with you for a while. You may realize that things that once seemed like hell, may have a bit of heaven in them in the end. Hopefully you will find that there are many ups and downs and ins and outs and pluses and minuses in every relationship you have, including your relationship with yourself. It is important to keep breathing and keep your perspective.
Balance. It is the rare person who can be in any type of relationship and not occasionally want to tip the teeter-totter in her own favor. I have many times wanted to sit down hard on my end of my metaphoric teeter-totter and watch as the person on the other end of our relational see-saw is left with his feet flailing, dangling helplessly on his end, held there by my own childish sense of superior strength in word or deed. Students of writing are taught to consider all the pros and cons, both their side of the argument and all other arguments, that may be valid to their way of thinking or even the not-so-valid arguments. In other words, when writing a thesis or a process paper or when preparing notes for a debate, it is useful and downright necessary to consider even the flat-earther’s viewpoint. You may believe the earth is spherical, you may know that the earth is spherical, but you can only win the day and write the Pulitzer-prize winning life story, if you also take the time to thoroughly and with a somewhat open mind understand why the other person needs to believe the earth is flat.
If a person wants to strive to be excellent, to go for the A, and not just the passing grade, then the idea of balance in thought and parallelism in constructive processing is determining. Of course, if you are happy with a C- in life, then by all means keep spinning around on the planetary merry-go-round with all the other flat-earthers and climate crisis deniers and xenophobic landlords. But if you want more out of life, then try for some Parallelism. One way to do so is by attempting to always balance your arguments with the other side’s argument held right up against them. In parallel thinking and living, there is not only a deeper understanding and deeper joy, but in fact you will find there is more proof for the important ideas you believe and the theoretically valid points you trying to make. But in the same way it takes a village to edit a paper, and good teaching to raise a child, there must be co-equal sides at the world’s table and balance on the opposing sides of any well-functioning teeter-totter. We have been given this wonderful playground in which to play and left to build sand castles and then playhouses and then cathedrals and opera houses and museums and temples. Even children learn quickly, that the stronger the sides of the playhouse are, the stronger the foundation will be and the longer the edifice will stand. This is also true for the philosophical playhouse I am building. Whether I am still trying to build my philosophical playhouse with bed-sheets and refrigerator boxes, or I have advanced to the likes of a philosophically and morally profound Frank Gehry, I must balance the sides and strengthen the foundation. And to reference the brilliant poetic parallelism of William Butler Yeats, if we don’t figure out how to quickly balance our teeter-tottering existence, the center will not hold and the world and we will keep falling apart.
If we want to be excellent in how we live our lives, we need more of us to go for the A++ in morality and ethical living. People excel only if they think through carefully, humbly, and repeatedly the hypotheses on which they base their beliefs and truthfully balance their credits and debits. By keeping in mind our own innate ignorance of well, of a lot things we claim to know; and by interacting not just with our own crew but with other human beings who have other points of view, we can better center ourselves. Life doesn’t have to be a continual game of dodge ball where we are always circling our troops and casting stones at the folks in the middle trying to dodge our missiles and missives. The center will only hold if we hold lightly our sense of self-righteousness and self-entitlement. We can better balance ourselves with a sturdy determination to think the best of others and to accept that most other people are simply trying to do their best. Human beings have never really been able to trust in those individuals or conglomerates or nations with unreasonable power or exorbitant wealth. But we have always been able to trust in the world’s salvatory desire to right itself. And although a person dare not trust in the latest religions to come down the pike, those that preach salvation for us but not them, or those who espouse the evangelistic hogwash of judgmental-ism for political power-mongering, or the sanctity of life turned into self-worth-seeking finger-pointing and humanistic god-ism; we might want to at least hope and live as if there is a benevolent Something/ Some One that has an unfathomable love and endless mercy for us humans that are as deep as the world’s deepest oceans and as high as the world’s highest mountains.
Choices and perspectives can and often should change, and so sometimes must our most deeply held beliefs. In order to write the best possible life-story, a person needs to strive for balance and understand the philosophy of parallelism. People only truly live their best lives, if they have some amount of humility to balance their pride; if they have “yin” to their “yang” and push to their pull, and grey areas to their black and whites; and vice versa. Children and pets make good teachers in Parallelism. Anyone who has ever given a child too much candy before dinner knows the jeopardies of an unbalanced diet. Children never grow tired of stories and snuggles at bedtime but they also never grow tired on long car trips of singing “Another bottle of beer on the wall” or of asking how much further there is to go. I have never understood why when I am the one picking up his poop, just because my dog licks my face, he is considered my best friend. That seems like an unbalanced relationship. And anyone who has ever watched a cat balance on a hot tin roof, can comprehend the type of crazy dance we fat cats are doing on the roof of our planetary home. Yes, children and animals can teach us a lot about living and playing together and about how to be the adults in the room of our planet-home. Having the job of caring for a child or a pet can teach us about our job of caring for our planet. We don’t own any of them but we are responsible for them; and we are only truly happy, when as parents, our children are happy; as pet owners, our cats and dogs are happy; and as human beings, when our planet is happy.
If we treated our planet half as well as we treated our dogs, we might not be forced to keep cleaning up all the excrement. I don’t often use extreme words like “poop”, but restoring balance to our planet is going to mean some serious elimination of waste and some extreme pruning of the leaders who keep feeding us b.s. We know that in order to save our planet that we need to start conserving and caring for the planet in extreme measures. We also know that the very best teachers and gurus and rabbis have taught that it is only by people loving other people in extreme measures, that our souls can be saved. But the problem is, extreme measures scare most of us and are beyond more than a few of us. As an old Jewish acting teacher of mine used to tell his young students, “man is not meant to live for long on the mountain tops, nor in the valleys. Man is basically a plains animal”. I’m not sure what my teacher would say today, though, as we purposefully and perversely destroy plains and fields and forests and seas and communities, in order for a tiny percentage of people to build a palace at the top of K2, while most people can’t afford to build a settlement-house next to the Dead Sea. While we may not all agree on the extreme measures that some people preach, most of us can agree that life seems extremely and increasingly unfair, extremely more and more of the time for more and more of us. Parallelism holds out hope that there are enough small people with big dreams who still have enough time and who can by working together, all lean in, and shift our world back into balance. We still have time to adjust the planet’s pendulum; but it will take all of us, bringing all our dreams and skills in order to start healthful re-construction on our planetary playground. We need some good, old-fashioned, balanced-world see-saws. We can stop pretending that anyone is ultimately able to teeter-totter alone through this life, and we can invite the others to join us and help us.
We are certainly discovering to our planet’s possible if not probable onrushing peril, the extreme ills that come from a climate imbalance; by the effects of human greed warring against Nature’s created equilibrium. But we are also witnessing the toll of equilibrium in tragedy after tragedy as this same destructive imbalance infects the human mind. Humanity, grows, well, less human, and more zombie-like, as our brains and wills continue their destructive see-sawing between mental wellness and the mental maladies wrought by despair and the hatred of self and of ‘the other’. The World Health Organization reports that each year one-million human beings take their own lives. Globally, in 2018, almost 500,000 homicides were reported. These are not healthy-mind, happy-hearts statistics, folks. We must do something to address both our mental illnesses and our sicknesses of the soul that lead to such disdain for human lives. We do not have to believe in the moral ideal of the sanctity of human life, in order to grasp the idea that living=good, killing=bad.
One cannot underestimate the temporal and eternal effects from the imbalances on the geographical and national and communal spectrum that causes forty-five percent of the world’s population to live in extreme poverty while the richest 1% owns one-half of the world’s wealth. That’s a see-saw that will eventually break in two, if it hasn’t already. The irony with injustice and inequity, is that it is often those very people who are known to have everything — riches, beauty, fame, success, even youth — that are the ones whose families find out later and too late, that the one who had “everything” found that life was not worth living, even with all the advantages on their side. The term “unbalanced” used to be a synonym for the word “insane”; and it seems to me that in today’s world we are rapidly tilting toward an unhealthy view of our own perverted idea of “rightness” and a risky game of cat-and-mouse that could lead to extinction. The only sane way of caring for each other and our home, the Earth, is by recognizing that we have gone “insane” in our personal quest for more, more, more and our bullying of other people into having less, less, less. Perhaps there is no more apt description for our self-destructive condition than “insanity”. As they used to call it, we have become “unbalanced”.
The world has become increasingly volatile, and perhaps our biggest danger is not from the world’s overgrown school-yard bullies, but from people (and that includes all of us at least some of the time and some of us, all of the time) who choose to fence in our own play-yards so that others cannot come in. We cut off one side of the see-saw with our one-sided point of views and we become entrenched in our own sandbox, with increasingly unfair playground rules and a lopsided acquisitiveness of the planet’s available toys. What is wonderful about those old teeter-totters, is that a single child cannot play on them alone. There have to be at least two persons sitting on the opposing sides of a see-saw, and there can be many more. In fact, the more kids who have a seat on the plank, the merrier. But you can’t have 1% of the children on one side, and 45% on the other side. Both ends of a teeter-totter need to have either the same weight, or one side of the children must adjust themselves by moving forward or backward. This is what we all need to do if we want our planet and our species to continue; or at least if we desire that human beings can continue to inhabit our home. Some of us humans need to be allowed to move forward; and some of us need to confess our sins and own up, and shift our big butts backwards. We have to stop this unbalanced game of tug-of-war, and learn how to teeter-totter together. Otherwise, how are we going to keep the children safe?
A Handful of Thoughts on Living A Balanced Life
By Jane Tawel
The following are some things I have been mediating on, while I seek more parallelism in my own thoughts, beliefs, practices, and life.
1. I can choose to see the Past as my enemy, or I can consider the Past as my friend.
2. If I use less stuff, my world will have more room.
3. I can stop spending money and time on how my body looks; and spend time and energy on how my body feels and functions.
4. It is a waste of mind and heart to try to figure out someone else; one’s soul only grows by trying to walk in someone else’s shoes.
5. There is only a short return on doing for the future. There might be an eternal reward in being for the future.
6. Accepting that religion is always relative and mostly about our relatives is extremely freeing.
7. Accepting that there possibly is a God is a helpful way to start the day and a hopeful way to go to bed at night.
8. It is not necessary to embrace mystery, but it is enlivening to at least, now and then, hold hands with it.
9. There is a lot to learn from asking questions and listening to the answers; especially when one asks and listens to children or old people. There is much less to learn from thinking one already knows the answers.
10. Truth often is wasted on an audience, but Truth does set free the one who suffers and acts to tell it.
11. Love needs good eye-spectacles, but not a magnifying glass.
12. God is the only theory that can neither be proven nor unproven; but it might be good to remember there is a silent “yet” at the end of that phrase.
13. Hold everything lightly in your grasp, except the people you love. If you love something, set it free; but if you keep loving it and want it back, try to capture it again by setting out chocolates or French fries.
14. As long as I have life for one more day, I can do something to help the children have a future.
15. Be careful, but not afraid. Take risks, but hold others in safety.
16. Share toys generously and receive love freely.
17. Work with gratitude and play often with joy.
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