A couple of weeks ago at the public reading "Thesen-Lesen" with Udo Erdmann:
Pleasant atmosphere in a warm ambience, easy chatting with the neighbors, friendly greeting of the acquantainces and mutual presentation of the yet unknown. I'm sitting there in a row curiously waiting, looking forward to the reading, and taking in everything around me.
Suddenly, I hear this one sentence. It came from the lady in front of me. She is talking to a young man next to her. I have no idea what it is about. Admittedly, I'm now starting to eavesdrop, but I can't really understand what they're saying. Just this one sentence. Distinctly it keeps resonating in my ear:
"I'm not using the word work-life-balance anymore, I'm talking about work-life-romance now".
Ha. Brilliant. For a dreamer and romanticist like myself, these words fall on fertile soil. I find it hard to separate between work and life anyway (because of all the black and white, good-bad, fulfilling-exhausting, inner-outer associations). And that's why the conscious (and loving) connection of work and life is all the more encouraging to me.
No, I don't separate. My work is part of my life and I love it. Sure, we are not always in agreement, and sometimes I find it exhausting. But love affairs don't mean there is always sunshine and rainbows, right?!
And a romance in general is not a lifetime bondage. It is regarded as something that is exciting for a shorter period of time.
In other words, we are talking about specific periods in which work plays a particularly important role in our lives. And then it changes with other "activities" which also have a special significance for us.
Hearing this sentence made me think again more intensely about my relationship of work (I translate with: "all activities for earning my living") and non-work (eg. cooking, doing homework with my daughter, family meetings, watching television, listening to music ...).
Today, in the midst of my professional life, when I measure my investment in my work and non-work purely from a time perspective, than there is definitely no balance in it at all.
And if you ask my daughter, she would tell you, that I'm working ALL the time...
Is she right?
Even if I am not designing, creating, writing, teaching, or consulting, my synapses tango and dazzling idea-butterflies swirl around my head pollinizing all the different projects.
Then, "I just have to note this idea down," "just need to finish this thought" ...
And, you might find this true for yourself too, I always get the best ideas when I'm not dealing with work or a specific project on the consious level. When I concsiously refrain from work. So, while reading the newspapers, taking a walk etc ...
Isn't this working too?
I bet it is! After all, these new ideas are always evolving into the best solutions for my clients.
Does my life consist only of work then?
For the opposite of a romance is forced marriage.
So what do I need to keep the love young and alive?
Distance. And focus on the other end of the life's scale.
That means balance, right?!
Well...., a clear Yes! And No.
Balance in myself, yes. Balance in what is important to me. What is important for my life.
However, if I'd put all that really counts onto the scale, I would tilt and fall. There is no real balance. How can one ever measure the nagging worries about your family well-being, the warm feeling of coming home, the annoying window cleaning, the relaxing chillouts with your friends, the tingling anticipation before handing over a surprise present and the long-term non-importance of a single school score?
But if this is so much more important, can't I go to every family party, attend every event? Even though it is closer to my heart at the moment than the jewelry I am working on?
If you ask me if I want to, I'd say, "Immediately!"
But then the work is more important in specific periods of time. For I have committed myself. I'm committed to another person. And this responsibility is important. (Apart from the fact that I enjoy making something special for someone else!)
I have to weigh. Maintain what is important in balance. Short term and long term. Remorse and feelings of guilt are waiting on both ends anyway.
I believe that it's actually not about work-life balance or work-life romance. But more about the balance of freedom and constraint in all areas of life. It is about the "how" we experience something that is an inevitable part of life anyway.
Being able to do what you want and to want what you have to do, is a blessing!
What are your thoughts on this matter? What ideas, comments and suggestions to you have?
I would love to hear your opinion.
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