Epiphanies happen. I had one recently that came out of a look at my home/work life balance. You see, throughout the years I’ve learned that I am sure to feel out of sorts and off my path if I attempt either of two extremes: Attempting to be the perfect domestic goddess and stay-at-home housewife or attempting to get rich as an entrepreneur. I’ve only recently figured out that the mid way between both extremes– the Middle Way, if you will– is where I feel and perform my best. For that reason, I’ve recently cut back on the outside-of-the-home income opportunities I had been pursuing to help make ends meet, and I am now focusing on striking a balance between keeping my home and growing my art. I’m slowly filtering out everything else. The immediate outcome? I have dropped into a world of peace and bliss.
And as usual when I have such an epiphany, it starts me thinking about everything else, and I began to wonder about the other things in my life that plague me in cycles. Things like my weight, financial challenges, and spiritual questions. What if they are all because I am attempting an extreme rather than a happy medium
What if I am either being too restrictive or being too free in my food choices and that’s why I never maintain a healthy weight? What if I am either depriving myself of wants and needs or foolishly spending and never striking a happy medium? What if I am looking at my faith as an all or nothing deal?
And then I realized, I am.
I do all of those things.
And I’ve never, not once, walked the line down the middle with any of them. I don’t think I ever realized that it was an option. I thought I had to choose a side.
And then something else occurred to me.
If I take the middle road in these things, I may essentially eliminate “want” and a huge source of my personal suffering. Let me explain.
Let’s take diet for example. Historically, if I am in a phase where I am over indulging and have decided that I’m never going to diet again, I soon feel sluggish and frumpy and “want” to be thinner and healthier. I feel sad. I suffer with the agony of hating myself and my body. On the other hand, if I am in the midst of a major exercise program and restrictive diet, I feel fit and healthy but I “want” to indulge in wonderful foods and traditions and I feel very deprived and angry if I can’t. But what if I take the middle road? What if I settle in between. I exercise, but not to extreme. I eat healthy foods most of the time but enjoy treats a few times a week as well. Maybe my body settles somewhere in between. Maybe my mind settles too. There will be no “want” left. I will be healthier and fit and have my indulgences. I would never feel deprived. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about weight or food at all. I wouldn’t need to. I will have eliminated that suffering. Forever.
How would that work with spirituality? or finances? or even choosing the size of my gardens? How would it work in all of my decision-making? Upon analyzing each, I can see how it would resolve some long-standing issues. I’d have peace where I’ve had so much turmoil throughout the years.
So is “wanting” the source of all of our suffering? And is following the middle way the answer? “Moderation in all things”, they say. I just automatically thought that quote was directed at food choices. I never realized it went beyond.
How many things does the Middle Way apply to? The more I look around, the more I think it literally means everything. From food and drink to the size of my car. Moderation.
I suspect making all the adjustments will take a while, maybe even a lifetime, but I’m on a mission to see if I can do it. I will continue pursuit of the middle way in all things and I’ll keep you posted on how it works out. Maybe you can try it too and comment to me how you make out?