You cannot keep your balance if you are tightly pulled in on yourself. You cannot balance everything you are on a single toe, not for very long anyway. You will fall.

You must extend yourself beyond a single point in space.

You cannot keep your balance if you are so spread out in one direction that your center is no longer over your toes. You cannot bend so far in one direction that you can’t stand up; you cannot let someone pull you so far in one direction or another than you fall over.

Imagine you have as many hands as you need to hold all the things that are important to you. One for work, one for school, one for home, one for family, one for your own well-being, one for entertainment, one for your pets, one for your car maintenance… whatever you have to hold up.

In each of these hands you’re holding a weight.

You know where this is going.

You’re expecting me to say that you have to know which weights are pulling you over, and figure out how to drop them, so that you can be balanced. Draw a line. Decide what’s important. Or examine your life, set goals and plan tasks. Trim out electronics, unnecessary tasks, toxins, people time. The common sense advice is that if you’re falling over, it’s because you’re holding too many things, and the things you’re holding are too heavy.

But I don’t believe that juggling two balls instead of eight makes you a better juggler [1]I also don’t believe that juggling eight balls when you’re crappy at juggling three is a good idea..

Here’s the thing.

There’s a force that helps us lift the heavy things in life we must carry, and hold them up even when we’d actually like to drop them because they totally suck thank you very much. There’s a force that makes the light weights lighter, and catches us when we slip.

It’s called love.

To love: to cherish, to take pleasure in, to thrive in.

It’s a verb. It’s something we have to do.

It’s not always easy. When you’re tired or cold or angry or your arms are sore from holding all these weights and the ones that you picked up because you loved you can’t even remember what you loved about them and you’ve been standing here in the rain and the dark for so long… you may want to stop extending your love. When on one hand some asshole is adding weight and on another hand some other asshole is adding work and on a third hand someone is adding guilt, and maybe on a fourth hand someone or something is adding pain, and this fifth hand over here is filling with fear, it’s hard to find the capacity love. You may even think you don’t have the energy to extend any piece of you any direction any more.

You may even be right. Love is not a panacea.

But we have an amazing capacity to love others, in big ways and small. When we take all the pain and fear and daily grind, it does not equal our ability to love.

When we let go of the guy who cut us off on the highway, we love.

When we look at a horrible situation at work, with people yelling and deadlines looming and no escape route and we say, “Ok, this happened, so I’ll take responsibility for my hand in it and do my best to get us back on our feet,” we love [2]Which is not the same as forgetting, nor is it the same as being a doormat. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s there..

When we fill our lives with love – even the tiny hold-the-door-at-the-gas-station love we all have two seconds to extend to each other – we find that amazingly, more and more of the people around us are also filled with love.

And then when it doesn’t get any darker or any colder or any harder and you’re at the end, someone lights a candle and says, “Here, let me hold this part up so you can get your balance again. How’s that?”

I’ve always had a theory that the Force is simply love.

I’ve lost my balance a lot lately. Sometimes I’ve been pulled and sometimes I’ve added too much weight myself. Sometimes I try too hard to pull into myself until I’m hopping around on one toe.

The reason I haven’t fallen over is because so many people have extended their love to me. To you I say, thank you, and here, please let me return the favor.


1 I also don’t believe that juggling eight balls when you’re crappy at juggling three is a good idea.
2 Which is not the same as forgetting, nor is it the same as being a doormat. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s there.

Author: Anne Gibson

anne gibson is a Senior Staff Product Designer and General Troublemaker working on design systems from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She's an editor and writer at The Interconnected. She is also published at A List Apart and The Pastry Box, and publishes short fiction when she's not persuading the terriers to stop wrecking things. (The terriers are winning.)