An Instruction Manual


The game is called Balance. It’s incredibly easy & impossibly hard. The rule is simple: All you have to do is prove to yourself that you can, in fact, do it all.
Ready? Set. Welcome to the world.

 


Introduction:

“So tell me, Molly, how often is it that you think about retirement?”

I recently took the position of communications coordinator for a global nonprofit organization, & as we walked into the conference room to set up our 401k’s, I, in my eighteen years of life, could only formulate one thought: “I’m pretty sure I haven’t even gotten started.”

This life is a brilliant life. A life where, as is the mind’s work, I wonder constantly about that which I experience.

Oh, experience. My (mostly) welcomed friend, the perspectives you have provided me.

I have found a world in which there are completely honest truths that come in opposites & sets of twos.

I have observed that, at times, people older than me despise the fact that I am younger. People younger despise the fact that I am older.

I am constantly being asked to think about my future. I am constantly being asked to hold on to my youth. 

There is so much left for me to do with this world. This world is headed towards the inevitable end & fast.

Don’t overdo it. Work relentlessly to make the right impression. 

Fall in love. But not too hard.

I realized there’s always my right & my family’s right & my friends’ right & the world’s right. There’s always truths for each individual. There are always opportunities to be had. There are always moments to live out. There’s always life, & it will always present more.

The game, you see, is called Balance. It’s incredibly easy & impossibly hard. The rule is simple: All you have to do is prove to yourself that you can, in fact, do it all. 

Balance is the most intricately designed game I’ve ever played. The turns come at me fast. The rules change. I, everyone I love, everyone I see plays. & most of the time, I find myself wondering if there’s really a way to find it- balance within the confinements of one lifetime. 


Setting up:

I’ve known some to say that there is nothing anyone owes to anyone or anything. Others who say to do the best you can. I’ve met the dreamers who feel their dreams are owed to the universe they call home. The wanderers who are figuring it out on their own. The analytics who find one thing (& one thing only) they wish to work towards leaving behind. The missionaries out to change lives. The artists out to change stereotypes. The whimsical who just keep changing their mind. Regardless, each individual gets to decide. 

The game is called Balance. & the trick lies entirely in what you feel you owe to the world. 


Rule:

1. Prove to yourself that you can, in fact, do it all. Understand it all. Love it all. Be it all. See every piece, every truth, every opportunity, & be the person you need in the world.

There is no other rule. There is no possible way to follow it.

It’s all centered around the idea that life always has a next step. But next steps don’t come when the previous is finished. They come in sets of two or three or twenty. They come in the middle of big changes. In the middle of life’s stages. In the center tragic moments. In the worst of incredibly busy times.

Decisions will come & someone, some thing, some idea will have to be favorited over another. Moments will arrive & it is okay to let a chance fall apart. Failure will happen & now it’s time to decide just how much power that’s going to have.

The game is called Balance. The rule is simple. & everyone will, inevitably, fail to follow it.


Feeling stuck?

There is the idea that God opens & closes doors creating the path to our lives. That clichéd example has been spoken into the world for a long time. That’s not the whole truth, though. 

In the same way there’s a second half to “Curiosity killed the cat,” there’s more to the idea of waiting for doors to open. There’s getting lost in the hallways. There’s walking through doors you don’t like. There’s having to walk out of doors you love. There’s answering the door to unwelcome visitors. There are many doors on many hallways all with their own individual potential. There’s no map. & no defined answer.

Those who cannot say that patience is a strong suit are in luck because here’s the loophole in the game where you have a say. Those who are self-proclaimed wanderers, this appeals to you, too. Because most opportunities, answers, help in life aren’t simply given, try asking for them first. So, to the soul who wants to wander the hallways & ask for permission to unlock certain doors, go for it.

The game is called Balance. & help lies in that ability to ask (the right questions).


Overwhelmed?

“My feet are pressed into the soles of my shoes which rest on the cold, tile floor of Dunlap’s common room. The backs of my legs rest on the plastic base of the chair in which I’m sitting. I can feel the curve of the cutout in the back of this chair in my own back. The exposed skin of my neck that neither my hair nor my t-shirt cover is cold. So are my hands. I can feel the curvature of the round table in my arms. My wrists rest on the warm aluminum of my Macbook. My fingers on the keys. The fluorescent lights ruin the colors inside the room. The sunrise only compliments the colors of the Earth. I smell & taste the second cup of coffee. The air in my lungs is cold.”

– Thoughts from a moment of failing to find balance

Be present. Be intentionally present. Forget about the to-do list. The calls you missed. Clear your mind of the arguments & tomorrow’s big event. Every moment will come. Time will pass anyway. Don’t let it all overwhelm you.

The game is called Balance. & there’s no escaping it but there is always promised rest. 


“So, yeah. It’s imperative to set it up now so that, when you turn 59, you can access an account that holds a certain percentage of your paychecks from all your years of work. Here’s to retirement, guys!”

I will turn 59 in 41 years. I sat in this meeting where they asked me to think about security for my life in 41 years, and all I could think about is all that could happen if I get 41 more years on Earth.

41 years. I haven’t even lived half of that. 

It’s easy to see where I fell into an overwhelmed state. I mean, think of all the life changing moments. Think of all of the possible paths. Think of all the love. Think of all the pain. Think. Think. Think. 

Wait.

That’s when I realized: there has to be a balance to thinking about the future and living in today.

I was in math when I realized there has to be a balance between understanding someone for their age & stage in life & respecting the fact that they are, like every other one, a human.

I was driving back to school from work when I realized there has to be a balance between rest and constantly moving.

I have come to decide there must be a balance to most everything in life.

If you are the individual who skips reading the instruction manual, then you’re in luck because Balance is played differently by each player, & quite honestly, most people probably have to figure it out on their own anyway. I still am, & I anticipate having to do so for however many days I have left.

So, player, decide what can be handled. Decide what cannot. Follow the rule. Don’t. Commit to one central focus. Spend your whole life jumping from point A to point K. Each player has the right to play the game differently. 

The game (you guessed it) is called Balance. & it must be played by anyone who wants to live life.

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