Thursday, May 22, 2008

Balance

Balance.

Growing up in the world of gymnastics, I learned the necessity of achieving balance at a very young age. Gymnastics is a sport where balance is everything -- balance and strength.

Conquering fear is always, always, always the first step any gymnast must take to improve their skill and performance level.

The second is finding [and maintaining] balance and the third is developing strength.

Yesterday was a day of examining balance. And perhaps today is also. And tomorrow may very well prove to be as well.

At least, I hope so.

A long-time friend of mine had non-elective surgery this past week. Like millions of other Americans, he doesn't have insurance. As we were talking on the phone yesterday, my friend was telling me about a conversation he had with one of the hospital employees. It was a conversation about illegal aliens and how my friend's medical expenses are going to be very high, but if he were an illegal alien all of his medical expenses would be paid for by the U.S. government.

Hmmm.

Being that my friend and I sit on opposite sides of the political fence, I knew this conversation had just taken a sharp turn in a different direction from my calling to check up on his recovery.

Thankfully, we have been friends for 25 years and have a relationship built upon years of caring about each other's lives. And thankfully, we have always been able to talk about difficult subjects with honesty and openness.

My friend went on to talk about how many illegal aliens cross the border, find jobs in America, get paid "under the table" (in cash), don't pay taxes, and send much of the money they earn back to their families in the countries from which they fled, and then get their hospitalization expenses covered if they become ill or are injured and he (my friend), as an American citizen paying taxes doesn't get any medical benefit from the U.S. government.

This is an argument I've heard over and over and over again.

But debating that argument is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about balance and how we perceive that in our own lives.

What I was really hearing from my friend is that he felt the balance of benefits for him compared to illegal aliens in America weighed more in favor of the illegal aliens and that angered him.

When I asked my friend if he would like to change places with anyone of the illegal aliens in America, he said no.

Hmmm.

Why not? According to my friend, their health care benefits are soooo much better.

I don't think my friend was really, truly angry over the perceived "benefit" he saw being awarded to an illegal alien.

I think my friend was angry over his perception of someone else getting something of value he wasn't.

How often do we go through life perceiving others as having or getting things of value we want or we feel we deserve and we get angry?

How often do we adjust the balance scale of value when we perceive something someone else has or is getting as being soooo much more valuable than what we already have or what is coming to us?

How often do we choose not to look closely at the receiver's life, but only focus on our own?

One of the greatest lessons in life I've ever learned came through my years of training on the balance beam in gymnastics.

The biggest mistake a gymnast can make on the beam is taking her eyes off the end of the beam while doing her routine.

Focusing your eyes on the end of the beam helps maintain chin placement and gives your shoulders a sense of alignment.

The moment a gymnast tucks her chin to look down at her own feet is when she is most vulnerable to losing her balance.

What a life lesson.

Keep your chin up, keep raising your eyes toward what is out ahead of you, and keep your shoulders aligned with that focus out in front of you.

When life is challenging it is very easy to drop our chin and focus only on ourselves. It is so easy to see other people as having more than us or getting more breaks or being less deserving than us or, or, or...

But

This is not the time to lessen the value of what we have in our own lives.

My friend has a beautiful family. Both he and his wife have good jobs and are closing on a new home. Their children are healthy and active.

Many illegal aliens that cross the boarder into America come from extreme poverty, a country with a corrupt government, a failing economy with no opportunity for paying jobs, a country torn apart by war, and/or a host of other unimaginable circumstances.

I don't believe my friend was really, truly angry over the hospitalization payment issue.

I think he took his eyes off of the end of the beam. I think he let fear creep in and he lost his balance.

Facing a big medical bill can do that to a person.

But

I think that if given the choice my friend would choose to keep his life and work to pay off that medical bill every day of the week and twice on Sundays rather than exchange the payment of his medical bill for the life of an illegal alien.

As I stated before, THIS blog is not about the debate over immigration and/or illegal aliens.

THIS blog is about how we perceive things when we don't balance the value of what we have in our own lives properly with what we perceive as a benefit in someone else's life.

How different would our lives be if our judgments of others were weighed upon a scale balanced by the value we place upon all that we have in our own life?

Would our judgments of others be balanced with compassion rather than envy?

Would our judgments of others be balanced with understanding rather than fear?

I wonder how different our lives would be if we always remembered to keep our eyes on the end of the beam rather than our own feet.


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