Energy Bruce Lee believed that optimum performance and contentment was centered on the idea that each person should be "like water," able to adjust to whatever surroundings contain them. If a person is never overly excited and never overly depressed, there is contentment and balance in life. Lee also said that all stress, both positive and negative, is hard on the body and should be avoided. A constant state of equilibrium is ideal. With this emotional balance there are fewer expectations and fewer disappointments but also more resilience.
It seems there are a few ways to achieve this balance, the most important being discipline. Routines that are healthy but varied, such as moderate exercise, meditation or prayer, healthy amounts of work and relaxation, and a reasonable amount of socialization are all necessary routines to provide a foundation of balance in a person's life. Yet, to be successful in this country, it seems as though a person has to pick and chose to compete in most any field.
Malcolm Gladwell's recent book Outliers reflects the phenomenon of extremely successful people in numerous fields, from athletics to computer programming. What he seemed to find is that a combination of opportunity and extreme dedication were requisite for the ultra-successful. Even Lee fit Gladwell's model of extreme success, which was proven by his rigorous training regime and precise eating habits, which seemed to be uncompromisable, even to the detriment of his physical health at times.
In the past four months, I have often wondered what happens when a person becomes wholly dedicated, sacrificing for his or her craft, only to fail. Personally, I have been somewhat obsessive lately. I've spent most all waking hours perfecting my manuscript, rewriting numerous scenes, editing, then working to begin websites and other blogs in order to promote my work, all in order to create the best platform for my writing--work that I have been developing for years. Whether the book will do well or not is yet to be determined, but it is an unavoidable truth that I have been sacrificing balance for this project, that I believe in it.
In the past week, I have slept an average of 10-12 hours each night, felt moody and nervous throughout the day and, to be honest, compromised my appearance and sometimes my relationships in order to finish this project. However, had I not done this, I might have missed a window of opportunity that will not come again.
I feel exceedingly happy to have completed this work, but did I sacrifice? I had a lot more freedom than a woman with children might. Then again, I can't help but wonder how much of my hard work was really a compulsion to finish. Why would I dedicate so many hours to a single project without a guaranteed result? Many drafts of this book seemed hopeless to me, yet I perservered.
I have the feeling many people are met with this option: balance and contentment vs. success, throughout their lives, and I'm currently wondering which path is more promising... neither is guaranteed, after all. I'm happy with my decision, and as an artist, a woman with no children and a hard working husband, I would do it all over again. But first, sleep!
Causes Jennifer Knox Supports
Families United for Children's Mental Health