Balance (1): Impressionability

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

It’s been a long time, I know. I actually wrote the majority of this next post over a year ago, but never posted it because it didn’t feel right. Looking back now, I realize that what it was missing was context.

As I have done with the thankfulness trilogy in the past, I will aim to do again God-willing with my next topic: balance. I want to try and thematicize my life via these posts to both create a public sense of accountability and to better organize my thoughts to facilitate lasting changes. I can’t say that I have perfected thankfulness, but I have at least become a little more cognizant of it. And after all, can we ever really be thankful enough? Anyway, it’s time to add balance to the pie-chart of my life’s themes, please feel free to join me if you feel so inclined.

When initially thinking of the topic, it wasn’t just the last season of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, from which I drew my inspiration. I felt and continue to feel like I am out of balance. Specifically, I struggle with desiring/working towards what I want vs. what others want me to want. I touched on this topic previously in my first thankfulness post, but I didn’t know what to call it then. I now know that what I really struggle with is how impressionable I am, especially in the face of things I wouldn’t otherwise have wanted.

When I think of the word impressionable, my first thought is of kids. It’s a word I almost exclusively associated with children, but now as I think more about it I realize how impressionable I am and continue to be. For kids, it’s more obvious to see that when they hear something they repeat it outright, but I don’t think we ever lose that as adults. We just learn to process the impression and then repeat. It’s apparent to me in movies, especially watching in the dark huddled next to a laptop with headphones on. The movie changes your thinking, puts you in a different realm, and if it’s really good leaves a lasting impression. As adults, though, what we take in and leave with is guided by our pasts, but in children without a wealth of experiences they more directly imitate what they see.

For example, last year I watched Frozen (phenomenal movie) with my 9 and 10 year old cousins. While all of us watched the same thing, the impression it left seemed different to each of us. All of us were left singing “Let It Go” and “Do you Want to Build a Snowman,” but for me the movie brought about a whole host of different emotions because it was like sharing that same Disney experience (i.e. the first time you watched Lion King) with a new generation. It’s like its effects were compounded on all the movies of old, but for my cousins it was the beginning of a snowball that has yet to gain steam.

Also, completely unrelated, but I have to take this opportunity to showcase our ambitious attempt to recreate Olaf in my back yard:

snowmen

I agree – it does look exactly like him. Okay, back to the real stuff now…

So what really scares me, then, is not knowing how much I have unconsciously processed since I was their age. To what do I really owe my thoughts now? My family sure, my religion of course, but I’m also a child of 90s sitcoms. How much of who I am now was built off of the Cosby Show or Friends? Or the movies I’ve watched or music I’ve listened to? I understand that this is human nature and not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m still trying to grasp at the magnitude of this realization. I feel like I’m on a tightrope trying desperately to stick to my own path, not realizing that these things are the ones pulling me astray. Sometimes (including very recently) it gets so bad that I can’t seem to find the road anymore, but that’s exactly why I have this – reflection.

Some people use deep breathing and pretzel-leg poses to bring them balance, but I’m not that skilled. My meditation is a blank page and a brain that should’ve went to bed hours ago. I swear I didn’t start this post trying to arrive at this point, but somehow I’m always lead back to the same notion of stepping back and reflecting. For me, it just took a year and a half of not posting to see that my lack of balance was amplified by a lack of viewing my life through my own lens. Maybe I’ll never stop being impressionable, but at least now I know I can have moments like this post to straighten me out.

Happy [balanced] Reflecting,

Naj