finding a balance

poboxI fell in love for the first time in the sixth grade. He was an “older man.” A whopping fourteen. Two years later, he noticed me. The awkward middle schooler was growing up. We wrote letters over a summer while he was in Arkansas—real, hand-written letters. We didn’t have facebook. We didn’t talk on the phone.

I used to go on walks. I’d put my cocker spaniel on a leash, and we’d go. And I’d think. I’d think about him. I was scared. No boy had ever noticed me before.

I also thought about emotions. Why did we have to have them? I had air to breathe and food to eat. Why, then, did I have to feel this way?

It’s a question I still haven’t answered.

B.B. King has had it all. He’s had success and fame, and, at 87, he’s still doing what he loves. But there’s a quote I didn’t mention in my first post.

“I’ve been married twice. Most women would rather not be married to a traveling blues singer.” — B.B. King

I confess I haven’t read B.B.’s autobiography. Today, it’s easy to look at the icon and imagine a life of joy—he’s doing what he LOVES! But I guarantee you his road hasn’t been easy. Even love requires sacrifice and hard work.

bbkinglaughing“It seems like I always had to work harder than other people. Those nights when everybody else is asleep, and you sit in your room trying to play scales.”

“If you want to be a good blues singer, people are going to be down on you, so dress like you’re going to the bank to borrow money.”

“If you can’t get your songs to people one way, you have to find another.”

We humans are funny creatures. For reasons unknown, we need each other: as much as the air we breathe; as much as the food we eat. In order to pursue a goal, however, sometimes these important relationships get pushed to the side. We’ll do whatever it takes to get to the top . . .

To look at it from another angle: If we’re the spouse, friend, or lover, we have to be flexible. We have to be patient and understanding. We may have to push our own goals to the side to support the one we love.

Not all of us are cut out to be B.B. King. Not all of us would even want to be B.B. King. But all of us have something we’re good at. Something we love that makes this world a better place. (Sorry guys, popping beer caps off bottles with your teeth doesn’t count.) The trick is to find a balance. Find the thing you love and do it with all your heart. But keep the ones you love close to you, and be willing to make sacrifices for them, too.

Unless, of course, you want to be alone.

KeltnerKlausBBKing2

Practicing in London in 1971 with Jim Keltner on drums and Klaus Voorman on bass (image: voorman.com)

BB_King_&_Family

B.B. with family (image: bbkingblues.com)

Additional image credits: Mailbox (pinterest.com) and B.B. laughing (last.fm)

41 thoughts

    • I know it! I am! I remember when I got my first email account, and, yes, my first cell phone. The cell phone was in high school. My 9- to 13-year-old students in Hong Kong were shocked to hear that. They were like, “But, how could you call your mom and dad or your friends?” It cracked me up.

  1. I’m trying to find a balance doing what I love and living life. After college, not being able to find a sustaining job, more college and still not being able to find a sustaining job (or one at all) I’ve jumped into trying to build a career in writing. Everyone always says you should chase your dreams and do what you want, and if you try hard enough you can do it. I don’t know if I’m down with all that, yet, but I’m trying. I think if we set a long term goal that is good then the work to get us there may be tough, but it will be rewarding. Enjoy your wings, Clarence.

    • I can relate. I graduated from college without a real plan. Got a job as a copy writer at a publishing company in Tennessee, but, a year and a half later, decided to move home. That’s when the economy crashed. I worked for a year in an ophthalmology office before heading overseas. Now, I’m back in the States trying to pursue my own future in writing. Not in self-publishing, per say, but, hopefully, someday, travel writing (of sorts). We’ll see.

      You’re right. Setting long-term goals is a big part of all of this. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I tend to go too much day by day.

      Oh, and Clarence says, “Thank you!”

    • Clarence would say that, he’s a right chap!

      I’ve never been one to set goals in a formal manner, but I’m finding that it is beneficial.

      I don’t know if I’ll pull off earning a sustainable income through writing, but I know if I don’t keep writing it certainly won’t happen, so here’s to writing! We all just need to find our niche and our voice.

      • Hear! hear! Yes, it’s pretty hard to support yourself on writing alone. Many famous authors have done all kinds of other work and written in their spare time to support their families—at least in the beginning. The beginning, they say, is the hardest part.

        Good luck to you! And thanks for the encouragement about setting goals. I am already looking at reading differently thanks to you.

        Best regards!

  2. Hi Jessica

    What kind of balance can maintain a person deeply in love, if you have true passion for someone or something eventually it consumes you….

    • What kind of balance? All of life requires a balance. Perhaps you and your lover are consumed with one another. But does that mean you can spend all day every day looking into each other’s eyes? Of course not. There is a real world out there in which all of us have a role to play. There are bills to pay and, as the post suggested, dreams to pursue. We may not *want* to face reality, but, at some point, we all have to. Finding a balance between the outside world and the person we love is perhaps the most important thing we will ever do.

      Thank you for the thought-provoking comment!

  3. Reblogged this on Walter Bright and commented:
    ‘Not all of us are cut out to be B.B. King. Not all of us would even want to be B.B. King. But all of us have something we’re good at. Something we love that makes this world a better place. (Sorry guys, popping beer caps off bottles with your teeth doesn’t count.) The trick is to find a balance. Find the thing you love and do it with all your heart. But keep the ones you love close to you, and be willing to make sacrifices for them, too.

    Unless, of course, you want to be alone.’

  4. Wow, this was really inspiring. Thank you for reminding me of something that I have almost forgotten… “But all of us have something we’re good at. Something we love that makes this world a better place.”

    And I love all that old-fashioned stuff you mentioned.. Twas a time when it wasn’t easy for people to take communication for granted. >_<

    … more blessings to you! ;)

    • Thank you! You are very sweet. Honestly, I *still* love receiving hand-written letters via snail mail. There’s nothing better than the smell of paper and the sight of personal handwriting… If you’ve ever read any of Austen’s work, it takes you back to a time when word traveled by foot. A very different world, indeed! And, yes! I firmly believe we are all here for a reason and, if we so choose, can make this world a better place.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great day!

      • That’s right! It’s smells better than signature perfumes :)
        Oh dear, I love Jane Austen! Everything was just so laid back during that time. And conversations meant a lot, as well as writing through the good old snail mail method. Well, I’m not saying that they’re worthless right now, it’s just that things were really different back then. I wish we could also have some daily walks and just appreciate the grandeur of nature just like how her characters do in her novels, or maybe have a cup of tea in the drawing room with expected guests who spent a great deal of time to travel. *sigh ;)

        Have a great day as well! :D

      • Such a sweet comment. And it reflects perfectly my recent memories of “Emma.” (I finished it not long ago. Not my favorite piece of her work, but glad to have read it as already I’ve seen references to it in other “scholarly” essays.) Yes, in some ways, a simpler life without some of the technology we have now would suit me just fine… Then again, I really like meeting new people through my blog. Hehe!

        Thanks again!

      • Haha.. right.. technology has its pros and cons.. And I’m glad that in one corner of the cyber world, exists a place like WordPress! :) Ooh, Emma, I am yet to read that one :D

  5. Apparently Mr. King has 15 kids from different women. No wonder why he’s always been busy! The trick is to find a balance and it really is just that, a trick. We have so many different beliefs and thoughts that come and go that make us so unsure of what should even be part of the balance. Popping beer caps off bottles don’t count? Says who?! haha

    • I know… And I was certainly not meaning to suggest that Mr. King is a good example for us to follow. Rather, he is someone we can learn from. You are right, it is difficult to determine what is *really* important. These things seem to ebb and flow, to “shift,” depending on outside factors and where we are in life. Not easy, but if we know what we value, it makes things easier… I guess you can see that popping beer caps off bottles isn’t something *I* value! Haha!

  6. it’s discipline. making hard choices. saying “no.” if you’re stealing from one part of your life to make another part work, you’re going to pay for it. tony

    • you speak as if from experience. discipline, hard choices, saying “no”—these are all part of finding a balance, no? thank you. as always. jess

  7. This was really well written. And it’s good to be reminded of this balance of which you speak. It really is too easy to swing to one side or the other when it comes to life’s passions and family.

    • Thanks, Nate. Yeah, I suppose I didn’t give a lot of “practical advice” for how to find/maintain balance, but, really, that’s going to be different for everyone, so… The important thing is to be aware. To “go for it,” but be sensitive to the people around you, too.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am always impressed by your photography!

      • As I am with your words. If you ever get some spare time, you should check out my literary blog. I don’t do much with it anymore, but maybe you would like it.
        I think there is still a link to it on my gravatar page.
        But enough about me… I really like what you’re doing here on you blog.
        And I didn’t notice that you’d not given advice for implementing your thoughts in this post. Really… I kind of thought you did.
        This really did hit home with me.

      • Well, thank you. I’m glad to hear that. All I can do is say what’s on my heart and hope others can relate. I’m glad it hit home with you.

        I’ll check out your literary site! Didn’t even know you had one. Thanks again!

  8. You make good points. And if damsels aren’t impressed with my opening beer bottles I’d better find a new hobby (might as well get some new teeth while I’m at it) …

    • Yes, I suppose they do. Life would be rather boring if all we had to worry about was food and air to breathe.

      Thank *you* for reading and commenting! It means the world to me.

  9. That’s a great post, Jess. Well done! :-) You are one wise lady who seems to have found your balance in life and love. Great! So whoever you are with at the moment, he must be one lucky guy..

    And I love the BB King example by the way. It validates your point entirely. Have a wonderful day!

    • You are too kind. And, haha. I may have insight into balance through past experience and a thoughtful mind, but I have yet to find a perfect balance in my own personal life. And, yes, didn’t BB work great? I’m really glad I got to go to that concert.

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