Balance (and why I think it’s critical)

Had a great chat this weekend with one of my favorite human beings.  It really gave me perspective after a rough month of April.

I’ve been lucky enough to be around some incredibly talented people in my life.  Some of them are talented to the point of “I didn’t even know that was possible”.  Others (often in the previously-mentioned category) are completely and totally unbalanced.  Their lives are 99% devoted to the thing they do and 1% devoted on the rest of their lives (family, friends, health, etc).  I always walk away from interactions with people in this second category feeling very sad for them.  Also, a tad guilty.  Guilty, because I enjoy the fruits of their incredibly unbalanced labor.  I never tell people how to live, but it hurts quite a bit to see people burned-out or used-up.  I guess I’m just cursed with empathy.

One of the most talented people I’ve ever known passed away at the age of 51 a couple of weeks ago.  It was a total shock.  He was a guy I respected immensely and will always remember fondly.  He was more in the unbalanced category, however.  He was definitely in the “READY, FIRE, AIM!” camp.  He wasn’t afraid to try stuff with his talents, but his life turned into a mess.

Back to my conversation I had over the weekend.  It was with (quite literally) the most talented person I’ve ever known.  I’ve known this sensitive, intuitive, brilliant guy since 4th grade.  He’s involved in an industry that typically turns you into a grade-A douchebag, because it tends to attract people starved for attention and money, while the art takes the back seat.  I don’t know how he does it, but he’s such a genuine person.  HATES talking about himself.  Always wants to know what other people are up to.  Looks you in the eye with genuine concern.  Truly a life-affirming experience when you get to spend time with this guy.  The world is better because he is in it.

I assure you, dear reader, that I’m not being coy.  I’m not a gossip reporter, so I’m not naming names.  My responsibility as a friend is to call you out when you’re being a moron, and most importantly tell you how much I appreciate you.  Both of the people in these stories know perfectly well how I feel (and felt) about them.  As with all things in life, business, art, etc: It’s how you deliver the message that is important.

Wow, 5 short paragraphs and I’ve already veered off the road, into the weeds, into the vacant lot, did some doughnuts, went through the barbed-wire fence and settled on a new road.  Typical of me, I guess.

Hopefully the words above have illustrated why I view balance as important to at least some degree.  I’ve lived a very unbalanced life at times.  Too much focus on one thing vs. all others.  I’ve also been a life-long dabbler.  I love learning and trying new things that can hopefully take me in another direction if I choose to let them.  I’m mostly in the “shallow, but wide” camp when it comes to focus on a skill (Jack of all trades, master of none).  Long ago, I accepted the fact that there would never be that one thing I would devote my life to mastering.  I can accept the fact that us C-students won’t get the glory.  Like my incredibly talented friend I spoke to over the weekend…Not interested.

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