Balancing the load.

I'm usually a very disciplined person and I hate it when my personal schedule gets wrinkled but sometimes you have to roll with the course of life. I planned to start the year off the same way I always do: Swim practice in the early morning, office work till lunch, writing or shooting until family supper and then a few hours of reading before bed. It's not necessarily an exciting life but it's satisfying and comfortable.

But right around the first of the year one of my siblings was diagnosed with cancer. My octogenarian parents needed some help and my business inexplicably increased back to the levels we were used to before the great recession. You can't do everything. Something has to bend.

Family comes first. That's a given. And, since I have a kid on a trajectory to a private college in the northeast this Fall it seems important to take full advantage of the income opportunities as presented. That leaves swimming (or not swimming) as a safety valve. I've had to miss many aqua days for travel and for projects that just flat out take time.

But even in that there is some sort of blessing. I've cut my swimming days from six to about three a week. I could use more endurance training but the extra days of physical rest mean that I have more opportunity to recover between swims and that leads to faster swims----while the endurance lasts.

And all of this started me thinking about balance. Life balance. Work/play balance. Responsibility and reckless abandon balance.

There is an anomaly in many freelancers' brains that grew in power during the lean years of the economy. It's an new few thousand lines of brain code that basically says: "Take every job that comes through the door because you never know when the bottom will drop out again!" And this brain code makes it tough to enjoy any down time. I know that when I finish an assignment; any assignment for any budget, a hour later my brain is badgering me and saying: "Hey! Yo. Lazy boy. When are we going to work again? Get on the phone. Move or starve!"  And yes, my brain is very bossy.

But I think the balance is the key. My sibling is making a good recovery and responding well to her therapy. My parents are back at home and doing well. The gracious firehouse of business is mostly unabated but thankfully all the jobs so far are good and creative and fun. I missed some swims. And I missed some walks. But I'm not missing the chance to spend time with Ben or my parents. And there's the balance.

My world didn't fall apart when I ratcheted down my swimming. I know it's hardly a permanent state of affairs. In fact I think I've put the same level of discipline and enthusiasm into learning a new craft (video) and fine tuning an old one (photography). The rewards are different but they are rewards none the less.

I have a tendency toward anxiety and it comes to the fore when I am confronted with change. This first quarter has been rife with change. But I'm happy to find that I am handling it better than I thought I would. Take care to banish Ambiguity, Loneliness and Indecision from your process and everything else seems to fall into place.

Life can be hard work. I have to remember to balance in some down time.


Wolfgang Lonien said...

All the best to your sister, Kirk. And to the rest of your family of course.

Richard Leacock said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to echo Wolfgang's sentiments, and your observations on family and the work schedule dynamics. My best to you and yours

Anonymous said...

I echo Wolfgang's thoughts Kirk. May she recover quickly.

Investing in family is never a bad one. (If only more married couples would do this!)

From Down Under.


arg said...

Of course your family comes first, Kirk, but just in case you need a little help with juggling all the other bits, which you demonstrably don't, I just want to make sure you put right up on that list, just below family and enough work to feed and house 'em, just below that is THIS BLOG!

Richard Alan Fox said...

May your sister have a full and speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear everyone in the family is doing OK. This is the most important thing.