The Beginnings of Balance

When the writer James Patterson was a kid, his grandmother told him that the best thing people can achieve in their lives is balance.

Isabelle was his grandmother’s name. And Isabelle, who ran a small family-style restaurant and lived in the same house as her grandson, knew how to get balance.

I want you to imagine this, Isabelle began. “Life is a game in which you are juggling five balls.” These five balls each have a name: integrity, friends, health, family, and work. And in your life, you’re trying, really trying to keep them all up in the air.

Until one day. On this day, you realize something. Work is a ball made of rubber. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But those other four? Those balls are made of glass. If you drop one of them, it will be permanently damaged, perhaps destroyed.

It was a story which had probably been told to Isabelle and which her grandson would tell to others by writing it into one of his books and talking about it in interviews and mentioning it at readings.

And when he told it, he would end it the same way his grandmother ended it.

If you can understand these five balls, Isabelle would say, “you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.”

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