None other than E. B. White, wise, clever fellow, and one of my favorite writers, said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

I’m on my own for a week, Mike is attending a Guitar Camp on Puget Sound — good for him!.  And good for me 🙂  White’s quote comes up for me as I rise in the morning and am accountable to no one — can structure the day entirely according  to my own devices.  Freedom!  Space! Openness!  Emptiness!

Of course there are the lists, the Green Team and  Meditation meetings, the Spin classes I volunteer to teach  —  and I have my rhythms and daily commitments.  But the home-alone space has certainly led me to reflect again on that sensitive balance between relaxed, present, unfettered enjoyment and ongoing, much needed, contribution or improvement projects.

We could say the contrast is a false dichotomy, and at times it certainly is.  I can enjoy the world while I improve it… The pleasure of setting things up with my fellow Green Team members so that we have our annual building BBQ for the first time with virtually NO waste.  We recycled every last crumb of food scraps, all the plastics, metals, styrofoam.  The eats and company were yummy, and what a kick to model such environmental responsibility and have it receive resounding support from residents. Bodes well for taking our Organic Recyling project further.

At the same time, I think White’s on to something.  I want to just go out and ride my bike… and I need/want to learn how to educate myself and others about the environmental toxins in the products in our cleaning supplies and cosmetics. (I kinda thought if I want to poison myself, it’s a personal decision.  But I’ve finally groked that all these substances wash out and wind up poisoning whole ecosystems and their creatures sooner or later.   Gotta connect the dots, and stop using yucky stuff… cheap is no excuse.)

I want to read, maybe even on a bench beside the ocean (hardly ever do that!), and I want to follow-up on the whopping exciting work on brain plasticity, and do the write-up for a fall presentation at our Community Center.  (It’s simply not true that our brains decline with age.  Science is showing it, and the news is so revolutionary, it must get out! :-))  Just to give a couple of examples.

You get the picture.  I’m sure you have your versions of the balancing act, the dichotomies, the choices and challenges.  The trick for me is not to get up tight about it, to stay present and kind, toward myself and others, even as I feel the tension between working for improvement and cultivating real enjoyment.

It helps me to take a deep breath, remember the work I’ve been doing with Jean Houston’s inspiring course, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.  A blog entry some time ago was called Myth Making and Personal Growth and featured a heroin (me), in the form of Snap the Seahorse.  She went though much soul searching. “Though the trials and the triumphs, the falling downs and the picking ups, Snap learned to trust herself, to know and value her own wisdom, to appreciate her resourcefulness.  She was no longer looking outside for the approval, the answers, or her purpose.” 

How better to choose and balance … but to listen to inner wisdom and trust the guidance.  If E.B. White were here, I’d share it with him 🙂

Yesterday, before our BBQ, there was a Jazz Vespers at a local church, featuring a talented musician and fellow yogi, Karen Graves. Now that was enjoyment, and also improvment!  The tenor of the vespers service was Listen to Your Heart Song.  Perfect, eh?

We’re virtually half way between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox.  The days are long, and getting shorter.  The leaves are green, and beginning to turn.  There is so much good in the world, and so much suffering, such perfection and so much still to  do…

As we move along in this year so full of miracles and disasters, inspirational and OMG-alarming events, may we all find our balance — ways of choosing, holding, being with, acting, that draw on our inner wisdom — with lightness, compassion, commitment, love, and joy!

Now I will go out for a bike ride along the Sea Wall, and take my book along.  Or shall I take Brain Power, and work on the blurb for the fall course?  I’ll let Snap decide 🙂

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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