Dancing With Life by Pamela Bennett

Sunshine falls on my face and shoulders like molten gold and people pass by wearing short sleeves and flip-flops.

Summer afternoon? Not even close.  Naked branches and sparkling patches of snow melting at the edge of the creek remind me it is late February in central Ohio. Mother Nature teases us with a balmy, nearly 70-degree day and we choose to ignore the fact it was minus three last week. We escape our stuffy houses in droves, delighted to be going anywhere without a coat, packing restaurant and bar patios—because we can.


Surrounded by giddy smiles, I go with the flow, believing spring has sprung, sip hot Earl Grey outside the coffee shop and walk to all my errands, ending up in the park by the creek, watching the rising water rush across the rocks.

It’s odd how easy it is to step off the merry-go-round of work, deadlines and stress on a sunny afternoon. Time stands still for just a while. We remember that we are creatures of nature, built to bask in the sun or walk in the woods instead of across a busy sidewalk or parking lot.

So why can’t we fit more spontaneous walks and impromptu adventures into our lives? Isn’t there a way to “achieve balance” or find time for everything we have to do and also what we want to do?

I’ve tried for years to “balance” work, family, art and housework and finally came to a realization—“balance” is as mythical as a magic unicorn.

We may think we can learn to juggle work, household tasks, family, creative endeavors, volunteer stints, fun and adventure, but just like an inept juggler, if we put too many balls up into the air, one or two are bound to come crashing down.

If I try to be the best journalist I can be, running around from school to school, taking videos and photos, interviewing people and spending hours researching and writing interesting news stories…I end up neglecting housework and letting the novel and the tapestry stay unfinished. And no time is left for family fun or having new adventures.

So. Experts at time management say the secret is organization and moderation—make a list and spend a little time on everything you need and want to do. Easy to say, but very hard to do. My list could easily fill two notebook pages.

Instead, I think I’ll just “let balance go” and realize that no day in my life will ever be an easy, balanced day.

I simply won’t get to all the things important to me everyday—and I have to be okay with that.

There will be days, especially deadline days, when my hours are filled with too many work things. But there will be other days when I can go off on fun adventures, or spend more than half a day on my novel or a tapestry. Or when playing with my grandkids or helping someone out is the very best choice for the day.

Life dances and you have to dance with it, whether it is taking you on a wonderful ride or is stepping on your toes. This is the necessary price and transcendent gift of being incarnate; alive in a body. Each moment is a fresh moment in the dance and if you are lost clinging to the past or clinging to your fears of the future, you are not present for the dance. (Phillip Moffit)

I remember taking most of a day to help a friend by driving hours southwest of Columbus to deliver some forgotten items. It was a busy day and I had too many things I should have been doing, but I chose to help my friend.

On the way back home, I passed a park with a hiking path near the Little Miami River. Because it was a gorgeous, sunny day, I decided on a detour.

Green, wet smells wafted up as I walked a narrow ridge path, watching the river rush beneath me. The sun dappled the path with yellow spots and the afternoon seemed full of promise.

I put one foot carefully in front of the other on the narrow path, but the ground was muddy, glistening with raindrops and slippery ferns.

The first time my foot slid sideways on a wet, mossy rock, my heart thumped a little faster. The second time I slipped, my heartbeat skipped and stuttered as my foot slid across the four inches of mud between me and a 20-foot drop into the Little Miami.

This is a bad idea. I could die in this place.

Was hiking alone ever a good idea? Probably not, in this place, where one false step could send me hurtling head over heels onto sharp rocks and into the cold water.

But the sun beckoned me, streaming through green trees, painting the path in front of me like footsteps on a map. Come this way. Take a chance. Live large.

We need to find time in life for spontaneous adventures, family, art and meaningful work if we want to live a “rich” life. And we have to remember to “pay attention.”

Alan Watts said, “This is the real secret of life, to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

When work consumes my hours and I long to be doing anything but working so hard, sometimes my camera catches a child smiling and leaping with excitement at a science fair, or racing around on a field day.

Suddenly, before you know it, I’m having as much fun as he is.



  1. Loved the story walking in the park. Always enjoy reading your articles.

  2. Pamela says:

    Thanks, Mother, and thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply