Dani Shapiro
March 4, 2009

On Balance

I’ve been thinking about the idea of balance. Is it possible to live a balanced life as a writer? Does balance even exist, or is it just some sort of marketing strategy? Magazines–even magazines I write for–tell us this is possible. Shrinks talk about balance. But…really?

On an given day, I want to do the following: work well, spend quantity and quality time with my son, do yoga, meditate, read something nourishing, put a delicious dinner on the table. And on any given day, I usually manage to accomplish two of these things, in ever-different combinations. Writing and spending time with Jacob. Spending time with Jacob and doing yoga. Meditating and putting a delicious dinner on the table. Oh, and did I mention my husband? A day in which three of these happen is a fantastic thing, a gift. A day which includes all of them? I can’t remember the last time that happened.

This morning, I sit at my desk in my bathrobe. My work beckons. My yoga mat beckons. The refrigerator is empty. A pile of books I’m dying to read sits at my feet. This is the last week of Jacob’s school before Spring Break–which means that after-school activities are suspended, and pick-up time is at three in the afternoon, which means…even fewer hours than usual. In less than a week, we depart for London, then Positano for our writers’ conference. I have miles to go before then, and the trick–it is a trick–is to remind myself that there is no such thing as balance. Not for a writer who is a mother. Maybe not for a perfectionist like myself. Maybe not for anyone at all.