Most days, my life feels lopsided.
I have days where I work the whole day at my job and then come home and work the whole evening on freelance projects, and when I lay my head down at night, my life is leaning a little too far to the left. Too much work.
There are other days, like this weekend, where I forget all about work – except maybe a little laundry and vacuuming – and I spend hours at a time playing. I went to a soccer game and to the pumpkin patch and to the park with people I love. By Sunday evening, I knew it. I was leaning a little too far to the right. Too much play.
For years I heard people talk about living a balanced life, and I assumed they meant that in every day, they experienced the peace of balance. A few hours working, a few hours playing, then a few hours resting every 24 hours.
As I have gotten older, I have noticed that a balanced life every 24 hours is a reality for very few people. Most of us never find balance that way. Instead, we limp a little to the left, and then a little to the right. We are lopsided most days, and sometimes weeks go by before we can look back and see some balance.
While balance or symmetry brings order to our lives, there’s also a kind of beauty in the lopsidedness.
In fact, very few symmetrical objects really have sides that are exact reflections of each other, particularly in nature. Most leaves, for instance, wouldn’t fold into exact matches, and though flower petals often grow in predictable patterns, they often vary slightly in size.
And the best example? Your face.
According to artist Julian Wolkenstein, if ideal beauty exists in symmetry, then few of us are beautiful. “There is a myth, some say a science, suggesting people who have more symmetrical faces are considered more “attractive,” he writes on his website, Echoism.org. There, he is experimenting with what people would look like if their faces were symmetrical, making two whole images of people by mirroring the right side and then the left.
Wolkenstein’s project was highlighted in Fast Company magazine. “It’s remarkable how drastically their appearances change from one photo to the next, and it’s easy to imagine how strange it must be to see yourself with what essentially amounts to an entirely new visual identity. But the point of the project wasn’t necessarily to unsettle. ‘They can look at themselves in a new light,’ he says. ‘It’s a time to reflect,'” author Jordan Kushans writes.
I decided to try it out for myself, to see what I would look like if I were a bit more balanced. Let me just warn you: the results are not pretty.
Presumably, a balanced me would choose a better hairstylist, and perhaps consult a dentist to get rid of the worrisome little tooth that seems to have sprouted in the middle of my mouth in both pictures. I also wonder if one of me needs a weight loss program and the other needs to pack in a few extra calories each day.
But to be honest, I prefer the me that’s a little lopsided, the one that has hair parted on the left and has one cheek that’s a little chubbier.
That me makes the rest of my lopsided life feel a little more balanced.
Check out a few of Wolkensteins masterpieces in the Fast Company article. I’m still deciding whether or not I’m going to upload the picture of the two “me’s” to Julian Wolkenstein’s Echoism project. But if you decide to try it out, leave me a link, or actually insert the picture into the comments here. I’d like to see if any of us truly is balanced.