Saturday, January 21, 2012

CAREGIVING IN THE BALANCE excerpt from The Caregiver's Reader

     One dictionary definition of balance, perhaps the most usual, is “mental steadiness or emotional stability; a habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.” However, in my life, I find it to be more complex and interesting than that. 
     Though balance can imply steadiness with some predictability, it is Not mere stability. Balance implies a degree of control while in motion. In fact, a smidgen of imbalance is necessary if one wants to stay in motion. 
     But when one is about to lose control, life feels like a “balancing act.” And when off-balance, one can be about to fall on one’s face. But wait! Is that true? Things are not always as they seem, especially in caregiving.
     During caregiving the times when I was off-balance were, though unnerving, the more instructive times. What did I learn from allowing myself to be off-balance? That I do NOT lose control—I learn to walk differently. I learn that I have far greater resources than I believe (or than I tell myself). This all sounds so appealing that it’s a wonder that I still fear losing control. So maybe the goal is not to be in balance, but rather to be enough in balance to keep from falling on my face. 
     Look up "balance" in the dictionary, and you'll find that there are a few definitions. One definition is “in the balance, with the outcome in suspense”—maybe not comfortable, but useful. Perhaps in caregiving we could look less for stability as a survival strategy, but instead look for that balance that makes for the good and vital living of this life.
     In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, stability is near the bottom, under Safety Needs, while balance is listed under Aesthetic Needs, just two levels below Transcendence. So might balance be a state of beauty even more than a state of survival?
     In dance, balance means “to move in rhythm to and from: to balance one’s partner.” So here we are again, thinking of balance in motion... perhaps as a way of dancing with Life?
     The dictionary tells us that balance can mean, “to have equal amounts of the necessary elements such that no one predominates.” Which brings us to the matter of having a balanced life, as distinct from emotional balance, though they can be connected. (See page 93 in "The Caregiver's Reader" for a neat little exercise for rebalancing your life commitments.)
     During caregiving, when I was able to achieve that delicate balance of the right elements in the right proportion to each other in my life I would find moments of great peace... and then... life, being by nature in motion, would run past me and pull my carefully constructed life out of whack again, so I’d scurry to pick up the pieces. Much as I tried to keep my ducks lined up, they kept swimming away! Maybe the real problem was that I kept thinking those ducks should line up and stay that way.
     The next time you’re feeling a little thrown by change, remember that it may not be a problem— it’s just life. What would it take to experience balance in motion? Then you would be practicing the Art of Caregiving.

1 comment:

john.rich16 said...

I am also working as a home care giver and I know how much patience we have to keep ourselves. There are so many situation we have to face while dealing with the people who are suffering from different disease. So this job is really very passionate and needs the dedication.