Welcome to The Balance Beam, a collection of Baltimore musings meant for anyone who is attempting to find balance in this world of dramatic highs and low lows and long, long stretches of not much going on at all. Life is cool. I’ll show you mine and maybe, one day, you can show me yours.
I read a lot of books about balance and well being. Usually I’m reading them in a messy house while the laundry is weeping for lack of attention and, more often than not, I’m a tad hungover when I read them but the act of reading spiritual books makes me feel like I really have my act together.
It also gives me an upper hand when it comes to cocktail party banter. As the political rhetoric escalates I can go all zen on my conversation counterparts by bringing things right back to a uniform head nodding, shoulder shrugging acceptance of the fact that everything is as it is. It sure is satisfying to have so much wisdom in the archives of this big brain of mine, even if I don’t actually use it in my daily practice. But, every once in a while, something I read hits home.
About seven years ago I read a book called, “The Dance of Balance” by Annie Pane. It was about energy – specifically Feng Shui – and how to apply the principles to your everyday life and not just to your room decor.
I was living in a Maryland suburb at the time and, dispite my considerable age and experience, I was nursing my first broken heart. It was during that crazed, pacing-one-minute-lying-catatonic -the-next phase of being dumped that I wisely reached out for help in the form of the written word.
The essence of the book is that if life is out of balance and you want it to change then you need to start with changing, or activating, the energy of your environment. Apparently, this can be done by moving stuff around. If I wanted to turn things around in my life, the book implied, and I did, I needed to turn things around in my living room. After a long meditation, I decided to find 10 things that I could move, on purpose, to create a happier energy.
The first few were obvious and easy. They related to a general cleaning up. Once that was done I moved deeper into my situation and realized that the moving of objects can be representative of more significant action. As I moved pictures and put away tchotchke that reminded me of what was gone I began the process of letting go.
I had moved nine things on purpose and I felt the deep satisfaction of knowing that I was cleansing my life of a negative past. I had one more item to move and I wanted it to be one that would turn my attention away from the past and toward the future. What could I move that would bring a more positive energy into my life?
It is an excellent question; one that I recommend anyone ask themselves at any time. I got a cup of tea and sat by my window to have a think on that when I noticed a real estate agent outside setting up an open house for the place across the street. In a flash I knew that the tenth thing I needed to move was me.
I ran for a piece of paper and a marker and I made a sign that said, “FOR SALE BY OWNER – OPEN TODAY” and I taped it to the window where anyone looking at the other house would see it. That afternoon a contract was ratified. (Note: this was BEFORE the bubble burst) I sat in my freshly arranged living room with a signed contract in hand and belly full of butterflies. I knew exactly where I was going to go.
I had been to Baltimore only two times in my life. Once to a bar in Fells Point and, while my friends and I drank and danced, someone smashed the window of our car and stole our sound system. The other time I came to be part of the 48- hour film festival which was being launched in Hampden. The 48-hour film festival is as it sounds – a festival in which participants create a film in 48 hours.
I had joined with a friend who wanted to give it a try but the night of the opening he was waylaid by a badly behaved kidney stone. We had to step out of the competition but not before I had gotten a taste of the quirks and the quaintness of this little town in the middle of the city. Hampden called to me in a quiet whisper every single day after that day but my life was too busy and cluttered to hear the call until, one day, while desperately trying to heal a broken heart, I took the time to move a few things around.
One month later I moved in with the love of my life – Baltimore.
Nancy Murray is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and the Publishing Arts at University of Baltimore. She is a playwright who as enjoyed full productions of her work at Fells Point Corner Theater, Silver Spring Stage and the Montgomery County One Act Festival where it was selected as The Best of Festival. Most recently she has been enjoying participating in the Submit 10 Series as both a playwright and as a performer.