I have been watching a somewhat cooky film on Amazon Prime Video called, The Reality of Truth.
In it, tech millionaire Mike ‘Zappy’ Zapolin and some of his rich pals undertake a journey of psychedelic discovery, first travelling to Costa Rica then to Machu Pichu for some Ayahuasca.
You get the idea, lots of self-realisation, Transcendental Meditation, Deepak Chopra, and that kind of thing.
Anyway, one of the ‘psychonauts’ described a drug-induced experience where he somehow left his body and travelled outside of earth beyond the Milky Way and far out into space to the edge of the Cosmos (does the Cosmos have an edge?) – well, when he looked down, he had the notion that everything is in balance.
Some good here is counterbalanced by bad there, black and white, up and down, Yin and Yang, the old Confucian logic.
And yes, this makes sense.
Now, balance is a funny thing, and it came to me vividly yesterday afternoon just after we had taken our puppy for some off-lead practice at a nearby country park.
Anne, that is, my partner and I were checking out some little climbing frames. The type toddlers can march up and down, first holding your hand, then as they grow with greater confidence all on their own.
Anne had a go.
I looked on.
What I saw and what I thought (to myself) was, ‘Gosh, she is taking ages, she is so slow, so unsteady.’
And yes, I went on after her and fell-off.
What does that teach us?
Well, first, people can be overconfident in their estimation of their abilities and second, as we age our balance, first improves – toddler to little child, then from somewhere in your 20’s it declines.
Pretty much as everything else falls-off.
Sure, you can probably find some 90-year-old gymnasts out there who are able to walk on their hands blindfolded, but, for the majority, staying upright is tricky.
We underestimate how difficult it is not to fall, we presume we are better at balance than we truly are.
And, what happens?
We fall over.
I have lost count of the number of old men and women who had overestimated their abilities when replacing lightbulbs or dusting high-up corners of living rooms, only to topple and break their wrists and hips.
What is the corollary? The lesson?
Well, it is, as you age you can no longer do some of the things you used to.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything, just, that certain activities become more difficult than others.
When I was 15, I remember cycling about town without holding the handlebars of my bike – I had a special power that enabled me to glide around corners by shifting my centre of gravity.
I remember trying this a few years ago and it did not go well.
Perhaps I’ve had too many knocks on the head.
And what is the point of this reflection?
Well, my first proposal is that people as they age should realise how bad their balance is or has become and secondly, they should work on it.
You see, balance, like any muscle, skill or talent can be developed.
The neural pathways that maintain posture and balance can be improved with repetition.
Do some Yoga or Tai Chi.
Brush your teeth standing on one leg.
Work on it.
Don’t climb a ladder and discover your weaknesses.
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