My family’s annual camping trip to Bucks Lake, CA was the 4th of July weekend. It was awesome! In addition to swimming, hiking, and lots of sleeping, I relaxed in the warm sunshine on my parents’ boat and read six books!
A highlight was a five-mile hike to a beautiful vista point overlooking our campsite and the smaller Thompson Lake. A friend of my mom, who had done the walk many times, told her about it and gave her directions. So off we went.
MARKERS FOR THE TRAIL
Near the top, my mom stopped to rest. I offered to scout the trail ahead. Of course, there was a fork in the road. So I ran down each way, and based on the direction and worn path, guessed we should go to the right. When Mom caught up I told her my plan and she interrupted me saying, “Oh look there’s a marker, Terry said at the top to just follow the rock markers.”
Well, that was the first I had heard of the markers, and yes I had a “high D” moment of exasperation. Without that knowledge I would have led us down the wrong path and who knows where we would have ended up. Luckily, stacked rocks indeed marked the remainder of the trail. We were on the right path.
I found it ironic that the markers for “the right path” were rocks perfectly balanced on top of each other. They just sat there serving their purpose. I couldn’t help to draw out the parallel, as I had come to the lake to be refreshed — to get back into “balance.”
The experience crystalized something I’d been thinking about for a while. I don’t believe that balance should be utopia, the Holy Grail, the chief end in life. Here I am a life coach and I don’t think people should be obsessed with balance.
SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE
That sounds heretical, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that we need to keep balance in our lives, or there’s heck to pay, right? Here’s what I mean. When people are seeking balance, I think they are searching for something more. I think they are looking for what those rocks had: purpose. Their balance enabled them to be markers.
Mom and I felt relief every time we saw those markers on the trail because they saved us hours of wandering. Many times we had to go searching to make sure we were not on the wrong path (and a few times we were). By showing the way, by fulfilling their purpose, they brought us joy and helped us accomplish what we came to do.
Yes, of course everyone needs a good mix of professional and personal efforts, of work and rest. We all know it’s a constant battle to protect the restful personal and family time as a priority. No one gets kudos and raises for being rested and energized in their personal life.
But think about those people you know who are living with purpose — those who look balanced but actually are so passionate about their values and purpose they are everything but “balanced.” They’re over the top in one area of their life. Why? Because they have fully integrated their values into their being and intentionally living those values out moment-by-moment, day-by-day. They are engaged. They are talking about their passion all the time and can lose themselves in their sense of being.
BACK ON TRACK
I’m like that. Everyday, I live with purpose, and my clients know it. They know I am as solid as a rock and able to guide them as they journey to their next level.
At the same time, I get out of sync because I let fear get to me and lose sight of who I am and what I am about. (That’s why I have my own coach!) I get out of balance. I need some markers to get me back on the right path.
Back on the hike above Bucks Lake, there was one point where we were very confused as to which way to go. We went back and forth wasting a lot of time and energy guessing. Then I saw a pile of stones, and at the same time glanced down the path 100 yards. I got it. Down there was a marker, and here was a pile of what used to be one. Now it was a heap of useless stones.
That’s how I can get sometimes. All it takes is for a mean person to kick me, or an unexpected windstorm to knock me over. I lose my bearings and collapse into a pile.
The good news is it’s simple to repair. Note I didn’t say easy. You just remember who you are, what your purpose is and get some help to get back on track. That’s what I did for that sorry little pile. I bent down and stacked the rocks and carefully balanced them on top of each other restoring their usefulness. Yes, they were balanced, but that wasn’t the goal. Instantly they were back in action fulfilling their purpose.
I invite you to evaluate if you’re on “the right track” and seeking balance in your life so that you can fulfill your purpose. Let me know what you think here.
Your coach for clarity,