October 28, 2007 by Allen George
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.
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