“How’s your work/life balance?” they ask.
“Really great,” replies no one ever.
Work/life balance is in itself a self-punishing phrase conjuring up, as it does, that image of scales, of justice. And seeing as things take constant readjustment, constant tweaking, you are set up for guaranteed failure. Because balancing generally involves falling the fuck over, and shifting from foot to foot, rhythm to rhythm, life to life. Putting one hat on, replacing it with a mask, covering that with a cloak and then pretending to have a limp while doing an impression of a parrot. Then getting home, ripping out our actual or metaphorical shoulder pads and somehow reverting to our cosy selves.
What if we were to let go of this strange notion of balance? In fact, what if we were to actively reject it. In favour of something like… work/life integration. A notion that we could be ourselves at all times – with our boundaries and our fears and our motivations – and stop trying to dance to all the different tunes that the great DJ in the universe chucks into our soundtracks.
Work/life balance was for a time of landlines and faxes, presenteeism and office hours. Now that some of those shackles have loosened, others have tightened. Those times – particularly for women – were about ‘the juggle’. Which in itself threatens constantly dropped balls. Integration is inclusive; gathering the good and the necessary towards you and growing through it all. Rather than standing, shield in hand, ever-terrified of tumbling and stumbling and failing. Integrate. Coincide with yourself. Unleash the power and potential of all the colours in your rainbow. Sure, you might trip. But who’s looking?