Finding Balance in your Life

I always feel like I need to drop some sort of disclaimer any time I write an article that is not related to technology.  It might be the fact that this blog is titled NERD TREK and thus gives the implication that all information birthed here must be about subjects pertaining to technological devices, video games, RPGs, and other nerdy pursuits.   Then I remember that this is my blog and I too can consider myself a nerd since I find myself at home on a computer, working on circuit boards, coding HTML, and playing video games and RPGs.  I am a nerd, but I am also a human being and human beings have certain things happen in life that makes you stop and ponder (as opposed to robots who usually continue on their merry way completely compelled by 1s and 0s).  Thus, it is with great nerd pride that I shed that aforementioned disclaimer with the need to continue my intellectual persuits in a manner which allows for the most productivity while sustaining and protecting my mental, physical, and spiritual energy.

Today I want to talk about balance, not the balance you use to walk a tightrope- although that is a good analogy.  As of late my efforts have been well intended but stretched to the limit.  I have a full time job, a family, play in a local band, write and manage NERD TREK, do web development, am building a subscription based RPG service, do I.T. work for an up and coming company, and DM for a local gaming group.  On top of that there are all the other little things that you have in your daily life such as making dinner, cleaning the house, and what have you.

I have always run my life with the intention to perform all jobs with utmost perfection and dedication.  I have always done my best and tried hard to succeed and many times came out on top where others had failed due only to my steadfast dedication and something I can only call an obsession with the feeling of completion.  For example in one of my articles on How to Fix your Xbox 360 I go in depth on how to repair many problems with the Xbox 360, it’s motherboard, the DVD drive, etc.  I actually performed all those repairs on my Xbox 360 and spent a few weeks in my living room using my little bit of free time doing everything within my means to get that Xbox 360 working.  I removed the thermal paste and replaced it, added wheat pennies to the GPUs to help with heat dissipation, I revamped the way the fans were lined up and created new paths for cool air to flow in and out of the Xbox, and added tubes that further cooled the CPU and GPU.  After weeks of work solving all problems with the Xbox 360 I finally got it working and was ecstatic!  You would think after the accomplishment of fixing the Xbox 360 I would immediately pop in a game and start playing, but instead I handed the controller to my son to test out some games and moved on to my next pursuit.

You know that saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”- that’s what it is for me.  The sense of accomplishment of a goal I have set for myself pleases me more than anything else in life can.  It’s an addiction and it only gets worse the deeper you go into the rabbit hole.  As I get older the goals become more lofty and multiply like evil rabbits staring back at me from the darkness.  Their beady eyes pierce my soul as they stalk ever closer baring vampire like fangs preparing to take my life to the rabbit underworld.  At this point I grab a wooden drumstick sharpened for Nosferatu rabbit slaying and wait for the onslaught.  Here they come!  Fixing broken electronics- white rabbit fur stained in black blood hits the floor.  Writing an article for NERD TREK- a rabbit struggles then goes limp and tumbles back into the darkness!  They increase their attacks while I use my bonus attack feat to yank out two more sharpened drum sticks from my back pockets.  Visiting my friends on facebook and posting some NERD TREK articles in hope they spread the word- that’s two rabbits with one Lagomorpha slaying drumstick and a few facebook friends like Nek Romancer join in the fray.  “Here guys grab a few hastily sharpened rabbit slaying implementations.” They nod and grin while preparing for round 2.  Roll initiative- nat 20… sweeeeet!  Here comes another web development job, then another article for NERD TREK, my family (10 rabbits!), my full time job (30 rabbits!!!) and my subscription based RPG website (another 30!) and this is only the beginning!

The sad thing about this analogy is that it’s not far off from the reality.  There obviously are not vampire rabbits leaping for my throat, but there are more things that a normal person can accomplish in one day.  When you stretch yourself this thin there is only one thing that can happen.  Your daily sleep lessens, you stay up later and later trying to squeeze more goals into the mix, you feel disappointed when a goal can’t be reached due to time contraints and your health and sanity begin to suffer.  After weeks become months your body starts to ask for help but you don’t listen.  You shove all manner of supplements into your vessel hoping the multivitamin, the fresh organic vegetable juice, or the tofu help aid whatever you are suffering from.  An ulcer, a headache, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, whatever your ailment is you try to fix it so you can move on and get more work done!

The problem is none of that works.  I have simply bit off more than I can chew. There’s a point in life where you must make a choice, a choice between life or sickness and death.  I’m not going to be accomplishing much in death, so here I am still alive and finding an alternative path that will help me find balance in my life.  Balance, what is balance?  It’s been so long I have no idea what balance is.  Balance is creating a healthy life, a life free of unnecessary stress yet full of enriching experiences and challenges.  This is something that I believe all people desire and need to survive and actually live.  In a brief sentence I was overworked.  Killing myself slowly through vampire rabbits of my own creation.  A funny way to go, but definitely not a fun way to go.

To balance out my life the first thing I did was see what I could back off on.  Given that the NERD TREK database now contains well over 120 articles, I programmed my blog to repost older articles which are still relevant so that those who missed them can enjoy them again.  Granted, in doing so some of my readers unsubscribed from my blog but if they aren’t willing to experience a little change and something different that’s OK.  Most of my readers stayed on board since I’m still posting at least once per day!  I’m creating room to breathe here so bare with me but don’t bare your fangs.  Next I look at my subscription based service and realize that we have yet to go live.  So that’s not a rush, there’s no launch date other than a vague statement of “mid-2011” so I’m good on that.  Besides, I’ve found I do my best work when I am free to write at my leisure.  When forced to pound out material no one writes good stuff, not even the best authors in the world.  It takes time to think of something or experience something in life that you can relate into the game, RPG, or novel you are working on.  When you let things flow naturally you will find that the best work emerges from your subconscious.  Next I tackle the other aspects of my life and the jobs I take on daily.  There are some I can back down on a bit and others that I must keep the level high in order for my life to stay as it is.  Once I have cleared a little space in my life I insert in that space things that can help me unwind, healthy ME time.

To create balance out of chaos I first place meditation starting with breathing exercises.  This is one of the best things you can do if you are overworked and stressed as it gives you perspective on your life.  For once you will stand back and see the big picture from afar instead of being enveloped within.

Second I make room for calm and soothing music, sounds of nature or tibetan monks chanting are two things which help me find a calm state.

Third, daily I try and remember that my life is not a straight line from start to finish, it’s not a race, there’s no reason I need to run and clamber and yell and scream.  I can calming walk to my next goal without apprehension or anticipation yet still feel satisfied with the accomplishment of the set goal.  As the Ventures say “Walk, don’t run.”

So, if you have overburdened yourself with a load akin to the layers of text which pile on top of this short description of letting go like an overweight pro wrestler crushing a minuscule gamer nerd, and need release from this lifestyle- remember to breathe.  Remember that your life is what you make of it, and the more room you have to breathe, the better your accomplishments will be and the happier you will feel.


Good health to you!



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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.