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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pendulum of Life

I'm entering my fourth decade in life and feel like I've barely started living. This year was all about testing my limits, getting to know myself and becoming realistic. The one thought that's helped me frame and make sense of everything that happens is to think of my life as a pendulum. So I wanted to share what makes sense to me.

A pendulum has been the most accurate way to tell time until the 1930s when quartz was used instead. Here are the parts - of interest are the frictionless pivot, massless rod, massive weight (name Bob), and the equilibrium position.

You - your mass, your physical body - is suspended from a pivot that swings freely. The experiences you have are a result of forces, momentum and gravity at play - swinging and oscillating back and forth. You'll be swinging as long as you live, what you can control is how much energy you want to put into reacting to natural forces at play like situations that happen or things people do to you. As you move to one side, forces will try and make you return to the equilibrium position, as you reach it, there's velocity that you gain to continue your swing to the other side. No wonder everyone finds it tough to achieve balance...and even when you do, it's not for that long before other forces and pressures happen.

The pivot in which the weight swings on, in my opinion, is your core - your values, your morals, your soul, your spirituality, your beliefs, whatever you wanna call it. As it gets more defined and solidified when growing up, this pivot solidifies making your swings more predictable and determines how much you swing.

Further more, the massless rod that you're suspending from, well when you're born, you have the lightest mass possible in your life and you're connected to your mom by a fragile cord. Your parents nurture you so you're not swinging alone and so that flimsy first cord evolves into a thread which reinforces itself through plenty of experiences. As you grow up and get heavier, you keep upgrading this thread into a string into a climbing rope as you learn how to take care of yourself.

The only way to achieve perfect balance and stillness and connect with your core is to meditate. But it's just short glimpses, probably until you join a monastery and meditate the rest of your life like the Dalai Lama or are trained as a child monk.

There's something called a Foucault pendulum, which swings in in 2 dimensional space with the rotation of the Earth. Swings can be really unpredictable if you have no idea what your core is and you're spineless, directionless and not aware. You can also imagine a Yo-yo as a more difficult pendulum to be as it has the ability to move up and down as well as side to side.

So what's all this mean to me? It means that it's very important in the early years of life to be surrounded and nurtured with love and care and proper education so that your pivot and string are strong enough to swing with. The job of parents, family, community to kickstart this is significant. The age old debate of nature vs nurture can be put to rest with this analogy - nurture plays an important part. Don't fret if you didn't have this growing up, we're in the same boat :)

This realization also shows me that it's pointless to just want the good, the fun, the joy - that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. You need to suffer to appreciate what good is. You need to accept that life is nothing but a bunch of swings and you could choose to roll with it or fight it, but the reality will be what it is. As you become aware of the swings, you can start seeing glimpses into your state of equilibrium as the swings happen.

Long story short - if life is a pendulum, I feel that there are things you can control and things that are out of your control. You can control your weight, your health, your mood and reactions to the ride of life. Everything else, is out of your control so stop worrying about it. Try your best and let life unravel. Set goals for yourself and achieve them. Don't fret about outcomes you can't control or other people's behaviour and reactions. More importantly, that everything is related and equally important - the mind, body and spirit - there are things you can do to keep your pendulum clock ticking in the best possible way.

I'm going to enjoy solidifying my pivot and continue to lose the weight to get my pendulum back into tip top shape. This upcoming year, my goal is to figure out how to keep a balance and hold onto the positivity and thirst for life. Thank you to all my friends who have stood by to watch and support any passion of mine - this time I'm going to take care of myself and not have so many people so worried.

PS. To reach far out there, how do you think different peoples lives relate to each other in this pendulum analogy? Maybe another blog post there :)