Life Out of Balance

For anyone who has seen Godfrey Reggio’s unbelievably cool Koyaanisqatsi, you might already know about the meat of this entry. If you do not know of this film, I more than highly recommend it.

Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning, “crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.”

Some notes:

iPhone 5 and “the new” iPad. Advertising and commercial mass hysteria tell us to want them. There was nothing wrong with your old iPad and you have nothing to say on your iPhone. Now there is a commercial that makes fun of people who want these products, then tries to sell an even douchier product. Crazy Life.

Only human beings are capable of consuming all the resources of a place. Crazy life.

We burn fuel to generate heat to run machines to keep us cool. Crazy life.

We spend our intellectual time looking at funny cat videos and reality television and then blame politicians for our second-world status. Crazy life.

We pay people to do our physical work for us, then pay people to make us do physical work in the gym. Crazy life.

Paul Bunyan's Potty, a crassly-named natural arch in southern Utah I visited in 2005, is featured prominently at the start of Koyaanisqatsi.
Paul Bunyan’s Potty, a crassly-named natural arch in southern Utah I visited in 2005, is featured prominently at the start of Koyaanisqatsi.

In the grand scheme of human life, we all face utter humility and complete insignificance. Our existences are an anomaly, a speck, a nearly-silent flash in the cosmic timeline. This can certainly be frightening to anyone.

Sometimes the most frustrating thing isn’t madness but dullness.

Crazy Life. What would it take to create life in balance? Certainly we are somewhere down a path of imbalance, so maybe the first move would be to recognize it. Life is so complex, however, that all we could initially recognize is that we are out of balance, not so much how we are out of balance.

Koyaanisqatsi is full of examples, of course. Power lines litter the beauty of the desert. Poverty grips cities. People run around like insects. Flying machines crash to the earth.

The question then becomes: what can I do to avoid crazy life? To say that I am working on it is an understatement. It is also always true, since I believe that all life is a process, not a destination.

Have your say. Comment and tell me what you are doing, or what you might think I could do, to steer clear of “crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.”

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2 Comments

  1. To the greatest extent possible, I sleep when my body tells me to. If that means going to bed at 8 pm, so be it. If it means sleeping late enough that I can’t take a shower that morning, so be it. I try not to let the entirely artificial, man-made idea of “time” rule over what my body’s telling me. Does that count?

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  2. As you know, I’ve (by choice) not been employed since some time in 2009. One thing I’ve learned since then is how much the old model of “employment” was hurting my personal balance.

    I’ve had to retrain myself to sleep and eat properly (well, less improperly), because decades of school and work had screwed with my natural balance.

    Going to the bathroom when I need to (as opposed to when the job would allow it) has alone made me twice as healthy as I was before.

    Fortunately, I had long ago pulled myself out of the grip of advertising. I can’t remember the last time I paid for anything because it was the current cool, hip thing to do. As you know, I’ve never owned a “smart phone”. (I wouldn’t have a cell phone at all, except for my wife’s insistence — and bowing to a wife’s wishes is one way to maintain balance in life.)

    As my wife and I drive past the hundreds of other drivers, all of them with head down and thumbs twitching across their iPhones, we wonder who they’re communicating with and why. And why they made the conscious decision to ignore the 2,000-pound metal beast they’re driving and focus instead on the few ounces of plastic in their hands. And we wonder how much they’re paying each month for that burden.

    But… this all sounds like I’m smug and bragging about it. I’m not. I constantly consider my own contributions to the world’s ills and mine.

    (And with that, I’ll stop writing a book in your comments section and consider writing my own entry about it.)

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