Toppling balance

My last holiday as a student is drawing to an unceremonious end. I have made peace with the fact that I will never get this amount of free time again in my life. Which is depressing.

But looking back, I will hold many of these holidays in fond memory. I was able to travel and unwind. Most importantly, the long university holidays were a personal camp. A time to address those responsibilities that had fallen by the wayside. A time to fill in any holes.  Readdress the balance so to speak.

Because we can't do everything at once surely? I mean to continue studying and working, whilst upholding everything else. That sounds pretty hard. Can anybody balance everything that's important to them in the confines of 16-18 waking hours, year round?

Maybe I should't be so keen to play catchup when I do have free time. Should I instead focus on making sure nothing remained neglected in the first place?

Our culture loves balance. It preaches it. It idolises it. The happiest people supposedly have most balance in their life. Those that can juggle everything that is important to them at once. Leaving nothing by the wayside. This is what we are told to aspire for.

But balance is a fallacy. Unachievable and unrealistic. Unless we want to break ourselves. And if we don't want to break, then we resign ourselves to addressing all these responsibilities half-heartedly and incompletely.

In reality the best routines are seasonal. A year has natural ebs and flows. Times to focus on our studies and our job. Times to learn and read more. Times to focus on our relationships.

We achieve the most when our focus is narrow. When all our resources and concentration converge on an narrow set of tasks. Then when we are done we shift this focus and apply the same single-mindedness to another endeavour.

We're human and we can't juggle everything at once. We're not meant to and its not good for us.

Hanzalah Al-Usayyidi reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah (saw) , when we are in your presence and are reminded of Hellfire and Paradise, we feel as if we are seeing them with our very eyes, but when we leave you and attend to our wives, our children, and our business, most of these things slip from our minds.”

The Prophet (saw) said: By Him in whose hand is my soul, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always occupied with the remembrance of Allah, the angels will shake your hands in your beds and roads. O Hanzalah, rather time should be devoted to this and time should be devoted to that.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2750