I am six years old. Beaver Lake in Stanley Park is frozen solid and my thin legs stand rigid for the first time in unforgiving, gleaming white skates. The ice is uneven. The small cracks and twigs poking out of the ice terrify me. I become frozen in place as the cocky boys with hockey sticks shoot past me, spraying me with ice. My knees are trembling. I look up. There, in centre of the pond, is a little girl in a red velvet dress doing pirouettes. I want to be her. I begin to lurch forward. My father’s warm hand steadies me and then with a gentle push, he lets me go.
I glide ….for a moment and whoosh, my feet shoot up in the air. A stranger swoops down and picks me up. I start again, thrilled by each tiny, perilous moment of gliding. A stride or two later I am down again. And so it goes. Painful falls spurred by the possibility of me in a red velvet skating dress. It was all just a matter of balance.
And it still is. It strikes me that balancing the fine edge of pain and possibility is what is being demanded of me today. I must hold the pain of a planet in peril alongside the promise of technology; a health care system that has forgotten healing alongside the global increase in longevity; a photo shopped self image alongside my deepened appreciation for the beauty of aging; a society consumed by consumption alongside the inspiration of the love based occupy movement fuelled by young people who can see beyond the destructive divisions of us and them.
Seeking balance is a surprisingly disruptive act. Finding balance creates something different from the forces being balanced. As we skate, we simultaneously slip between gravity and motion to find ourselves in flow. As I teeter into 2012, I seek the equanimity to hold the pain of an unjust world without being consumed by it, alongside the promise of a better world without being blinded by it. I seek the strength to live with the paradox of our wounded and beautiful world, knowing balance is never a steady state but the space in between.
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