a kind of half life

A virtual friend of mine was explaining to me how she wants to do so many these things with her life, but she had to temper her ambitions with pleasing other people. She reckons she is stopped cold by her obligations to the ones she loves. In her mind, she wrestles with the possibility that while she is off chasing her star, the people she loves will feel abandoned or that they might need her and she’s not there. She tries to cope by balancing a little of their wishes with a little of hers. The results she says is “a kind of half life.�

It struck me as a crazy way to live. What good is a half life? Does that mean half the time she’s alive and the other half she’s some kind of zombie walking around half dead? She told me about a lady who has an extreme career and when the lady was asked why she chose such a career, she answered, “I do what I do because I need to feel profoundly turned on by my life.�

The balancing act is a tricky one. Over the years, I have struggled with this balance myself – first as an infantryman, and then as a traveller and adventurer. The line is thin between following your dreams and desires as an individual person and upholding your duties, responsibilities, and commitments to those around you – especially our family and friends. As you will have gathered, I love travel and adventure. But my love is not shared to the same extent amongst my family. If I had my way completely, I would be a nomad, roaming the planet in search of endless adventure. I’d be happy to have as my only possession a rucksack and a good pair of hiking boots.

I used to view balance as a compromise. The thing with compromising is a little piece of you dies each time you do it. Instead of a win:win situation, you get a lose:lose scenario, in other words each person has to give up something of what they really want. This carries with it possibilities of regret and perhaps even resentment in the long run.

I looked for ways to get around this dilemma. And what I discovered was compromising and balancing are two sides of the same coin. In order to be truly happy a win:win situation has to be the end result. And for me that meant exploring the source for my individual pursuits. I questioned my motives for wanting to do what I did. And when I looked under the hood and examined the metaphysics of my being, I discovered that a lot of the things I wanted to do were merely attempts to escape some condition – to run away from the boredom and functionality of every day life. But then I realised, if I wasn’t doing it for the pure joy, then why do it all? And then while walking the Camino de Santiago, I had an ephiphany. Life is pure joy and that every day I should rejoice in that joy regardless of where or what I was doing. That has made all the difference.

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Anndi January 20, 2007 at 7:04 am

    As always I am impressed and inspired by your post. Your love of life and your ability to search for the positive are undoubtedly why people share their dilemnas with you. You truly are a kindred spirit.
    I was forced to live life at a very slow pace lately and I had time to sit and think. I realized that every moment is precious, that I can always change the path my life is on and all I have to do is decide what I want… commit to it, and it shall be.
    Living in the moment is a wonderful way to live Clay. Thank you for sharing of yourself.

  2. Tisha January 20, 2007 at 11:51 am

    This has been one of my greatest struggles in life. Being the kind of person that wants to please, loves harmony and helping people I’ve come to the conclusion that living that way wasn’t healthy for me. Not only was I neglecting my own needs but in many cases I wasn’t doing any good to the people I was “helping” because in some cases I was enabling them to be codependent. I now reconcile my need to please with my own needs and it was the hardest lesson to learn.

    Thank you Clay for always making me feel, think and react!

  3. Clay Lowe January 20, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Anndi,
    I have found, in my travels, that it is easy to get lost. You look up only to realise you are no longer walking on the path you thought you were. Some times this is a good thing, and some times it is a bad thing. And some times you don’t know whether to keep going or turn around, or go in completely different way. But i think the important thing to remember is that you CAN always CHANGE the path you are walking on.

  4. Clay Lowe January 20, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Tisha,

    It is something I struggle with often. Where does the boundary between your obilgations to others and your obligation to yourself lay? Compromise? Selfishness? Or give up and give in?

  5. Tisha January 21, 2007 at 6:10 am

    Certainly there is a tad of selfishness involved still I consider it more like survival – everybody wants a piece of you, help me with this, that… it’s impossible! Before I would try to do it all as if I was Wonder Woman, had an ulcer, migraines, the whole works now if I can’t do something I just say “NO” or “I’ll try” without making a commitment cause I hate doing anything half-assed. People have to love me not for my deeds but for my person.