It must have been four months. Four months since I stumbled on this word. It’s Hopi, means “life out of balance”, and its existence so neatly packaged our – my – impression of being. Though it outlived my memory of the article that bore it I filed away somewhere, dormant – until I made this picture.

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And suddenly koyaanisqatsi, its attendant thoughts and emotions, they all rushed to the fore.

Balance. This chimera I’ve been wrestling since midway through engineering undergrad. The bitterness of compromise – really capitulation – is the overwhelming impression of my last two years at Waterloo. I put my ‘life’ on hold every four months, surrendering time and effort to the demands of schooling. I did – and I blamed Waterloo; many do. There’s a reason why we’re seen as bitter.

Perhaps we each entertain fictions. Wishful fantasies of a life that could be, if only… I too surrendered, imagining that things would be different after undergrad; that I would be different; that this five-year birthing would present a me, capable of satisfaction, to the world.

And of course it wasn’t so. When I had the chance to leave, I didn’t, and I started to question the “cause of all that ails me”. I stared into a mirror; allowed the space around me to empty; for the backdrop of people, commitments and activities to fade through unapologetic neglect; and I began to see myself.

I find the image in the mirror misted over. It has a name – mine – but what he wants, and where he’ll go, is hazy. I keep wiping away at the veiling, rubbing hard, then harder – when can I find that first sharp edge? All that, and to no effect – except perhaps, the…the suspicion that balance is simply assurance; assurance that the time you spend belongs to the activity you’ve chosen – to be able to envelop yourself in the fullness of experience, free from the corrosiveness of self doubt.

I have nothing more. I get up – not for any great purpose, but because it happens; get out of bed – because that is what I’ve always done; go to sleep – because night has come. This is my being. This is living.

So, when I read that article again, I understand – can see myself in those commuters’ frenetic footsteps; and I wonder if through my actions, that is what I’ll become.

Flickr photo page: Koyaanisqatsi


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