The necessity of balance in one’s life is a recurring theme in both Anne’s book and this blog. I find myself especially in need of balance, as moderation has never been my strong point, and life continues to present me with opportunities to learn. People who do too much tend to fill their days with more than any one person can reasonably do. We fill not just our days and our lives, but our minds as well. The reality is there is only so much one person can do, a finite amount that we can focus on at any given time. As always though, it is easier to see the problem with a little distance. Once it is outside of ourselves, we can recognize the reality of the situation which is that it’s stressful.
On the topic of asking for help and reality, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“There is a Zen story about a college professor who came to a Zen master seeking knowledge. The old Zen master looked over the professor carefully then asked a student to go fetch her a pot of tea and two cups. She then placed a cup in front of the professor and began to pour. The tea filled the cup and spilled out over the table. Seeing this, the professor shouted, ‘Stop, can’t you see the cup is full? It can hold no more!” The old Zen master smiled and said, ‘And so it is with you. Your mind, too, is full of too many things. Only when you empty it will there be room for more knowledge to come in.’
Asking for help is a way of ‘emptying’ our lives. Stopping and seeing that our lives have become too full may well be the beginning of a process that can empty us and make way for new ways of being.”
Sometimes we need someone to open our eyes to reality. We can become so accustomed to our current situation that we become blind to the truth: Our lives have become unmanageable. People talk a lot about the importance of fulfillment. What constitutes a fulfilled life? We often think of fulfillment in terms of filling our lives with the essential, the meaningful. People, places, and activities that bring us happiness, teach us new skills, or help us to grow. Emptying is just as important to the balance and well-being of our lives as filling is though.
Containers can only hold so much. There is a limited amount that will fit into any given vessel. One cup will never be able to hold any more than exactly one cup’s worth of material, for example. We often forget that our minds and bodies are vessels, too. They, too, have a limited amount of capacity and require regular emptying to allow for new thoughts and ideas to enter. Creativity, peace, and enjoyment all need space—they require a little room to breathe. We could use some, too.