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May 14th, 2021
Balance tends to mean homeostasis, but it’s used in places where we definitely don’t want homeostasis.
Take for instance a fitness goal. Often it’s lose weight, get leaner and perhaps gain muscle. But how many people are likely to reward a workout with a meal that is less than ideal when taking into account those fitness goals. We refer to this as being balanced. I did something good, and for whatever puritanical reason, it now deserves a reward. But it’s like taking a step forward in order to take a step back. Balance I achieved alright, but what that means is a whole bunch of effort to ensure that nothing changes. Goals aren’t reached and ultimately the workout seems like it’s not working out.
What we need to move forward in imbalance. It’s a bit like when you find yourself falling forward, because perhaps you’ve just tripped, and in order to save yourself, you’ll run forward, usually awkwardly, but as quickly as you can. The imbalance creates the need for speed. Homeostasis quite literally gets us nowhere.
Achieving a calorie deficit, or rearranging nutritional ratios to create a deficit of carbohydrates or sugar are all a type of imbalance when juxtaposed to the diet which is or was the status quo. The table will only tilt if we knock one of the legs out, and the same goes for most progress. All effort is probably just a short break from being lazy. The experience of being lazy is a kind of homeostasis: things are good enough, so why do anything? It’s only when something about good enough is taken away, and things cease to be ok that we actually get going. For a disciplined person, this can actually be a feeling around inactivity. We can cultivate a kind of restless need to be doing something, similar to how some people can’t stand silence and must always have company, be it a real person, or some music, or the blathering TV in the background.
Balance as it’s commonly recommended is a fallacy, a regression to laziness and an underscored sense that things are just fine and need not change. When in fact, in many areas, we need an imbalance to get the needle moving in a better direction.