Some people will tell you that there is no such thing as a work-life balance. That it simply does not exist in our technology-driven modern society. That “it’s all just life” so suck it up.
For many folks in the US this is true and it can be hard not to get swept up in the race. But then again, it’s all about what you prioritize and what you truly value.
I think for everyone the recipe for finding balance is different.”Est modus en rebus” is one of life’s non-transient truths.
In all things, balance
This balance exists despite how we choose to ignore it and regardless of how we choose to prescribe our view of the world unto others.
Living in Norway for four years put into perspective what it truly means to have a work-life balance. For many Scandinavians it is part of the social democratic fabric and firmly embedded into their cultural identity.
My current feelings on the work-life balance have changed from a dichotomy to a trinity of work, passion and family.
Three is the magic number after all.
Work is a means to an end. We work to take care of our families, pay our bills and save up for retirement. When we no longer need to work we get to enjoy life in our golden years, or so we are told.
So if gainful employment is a means to an end, what is the end result?
I’ve noticed that after retirement, some folks seem lost. After spending the majority of their lives moving to the beat of another’s drum, I suppose it is hard to rediscover their rhythm and raison d’être at the ripe old age of 65 or whatever.
Much like spending decades in prison, long-time employees too can become institutionalized. We go to school and college to prepare for a working career, but there isn’t much planning done to prepare people for a meaningful retirement.
I’ve “retired” from that old way of thinking about work and what comes after. After leaving my office job and months of soul searching, I made the decision that I’m not going to wait until my golden years to do what I want to do everyday.
I’ve found that work is necessary only up to a point. I can work when I need to. Being self-employed this past year and a half has taught me that.
Work now is about one thing: funding the farm project.
Kahlil Gibran says that “work is love made visible,” and this is the type of art and higher meaning that our passions can take the shape of.
Our farm and love of good food is clearly our motivation here. We’re on an adventure and it doesn’t feel like work at all. Although it is very challenging and stressful, every little bit of progress feels like a huge win.
When you’re working for someone else, it can be hard to keep the faith and stay committed. But when it’s your start-up with the hopes of becoming your livelihood, commitment comes naturally and faith is instinctive.
As our passionate pursuits turn into sustainable income, which is one the goals, there could come a point I suppose where your passions can start to feel like work.
We’ll need to be cognizant of this and keep remembering that farming, much like other noble occupations, is about living life in the service of others.
Family & Friends
Family is your link to cultural heritage. A big reason we moved back from Norway was to be able to spend more time with family.
I know some folks may not like or get along with their family. Luckily for us, this is not the case. Growing up I can think of few weekends throughout the year not going to or preparing for some type of family gathering.
Barbecues, apple picking, pumpkin carving parties and lots of festive times around Christmas; all my life, large family gatherings have been the norm.
It is the joy of laughter and the sharing of good food and drink that continues to push our ideas on what we’d like to do on the farm and homestead.
Even if you do not have family close by – it’s important to make time with friends. To come together and break bread with your neighbors even though your religious or political views are not aligned.
Especially now being in a somewhat remote and rural space like the Adirondacks, a sense of community and togetherness is important. One could argue that it’s the most important piece of the triad and one that we all need to build on.
A balancing act
Keeping the trinity in balance is a challenge and at this stage in my life it is one that I have to believe is worthwhile… in the journey!