Friday, September 11, 2009

A Quarter-Worth

“A system is in equilibrium when the forces constituting it are arranged in such a way as to compensate each other, like the two weights pulling at the arms of a pair of scales.” ~ Rudolf Arnheim

About a year ago, I bought a pair of scales at the flea market, and placed them on the table in my prayer and meditation corner. For a while, each time something unpleasant occurred I would place a small weight on one of the plates, and when something good happened, I’d put a weight on the other one. For small things I would add a penny, for medium events a nickel and for real breakthroughs a quarter.

I continued adding weights each day to see what would happen, and I noticed something quite interesting – the “good” and “bad” weights alternated each other in a fairly regular pattern. If some days I had a sequence of bad penny-worth situations, the next one to come up would be a nickel or quarter worth of their opposite.

I watched that pattern for several days, mesmerized by the random precision of it, and I wondered if this concept applies to natural phenomena as well. I began to observe weather patterns more closely and indeed noticed that in average, nature was also able to balance itself, contrary to what many people believed.

The day before yesterday I had a quarter-worth of annoying situations crossing my path, but just one day later things began to balance again – I woke up yesterday morning to cheerful birthday wishes from many friends, I received wonderful news from my publisher, and when we went out to dinner, the restaurant manager surprised me in two ways – he brought me a slice of cake with a candle – since he heard from my very vocal daughter that it was mom’s birthday - and he only charged us for half the bill. After dinner we walked into a bookstore and I found a great book to read for the next few days.

Needless to say, my scales were by now tipping on the positive side. Will the weight change again tomorrow, or the next day? Maybe so – in fact it probably will, at least for a short while, just to bring the scales back into balance.

One of the most interesting things I have learned from “weighing” events has been that a lack of balance in either direction is not necessarily a good thing. If things go always wrong, one’s spirit gets crushed and numb, but if things go always right, we tend to become too complacent and blind to the circumstances of others, in addition to losing the satisfaction that comes from overcoming obstacles. Sunshine would get pretty boring if an occasional storm didn’t break the monotony.

Obstacles allow us the opportunity to notice the blessings, and at times they are the only mean for us to slow down and appreciate the beauty surrounding us. Even when they are a quarter-worth.

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