Out of Balance

Last night I had to face how out of balance my life is right now. In the midst of learning tango, I've forgotten, or been unwilling, to take the lessons that tango teaches and apply them to the rest of my life. For me, and I suspect I'm not alone, tango has been, among the many wonderful things, one less desirable thing (at least when it comes to having balance in my life) - an escape. I think most people go to milongas because it relieves a lot of stress in our lives - but it can go beyond that so easily. The milonga (and classes, and festivals, and practicas) becomes a place to run to when the rest of our world seems too overwhelming to cope with.

The tango world can, surprisingly, be a very orderly place in contrast to lay-offs, money worries, and home pressures. It's so much easier to find connection and feel valued at the milonga that it is, for instance, in my job where we just finished a round of "justify your job" meetings. It's that way for a lot of people. But instead of taking the valuable lessons that tango teaches about reaching out to people, about accepting people where they are and not where we would like them to be, taking responsibility for misunderstandings and valuing even difficult relationships, I left them in tango. Add to that fatigue from dancing so much and treating my home like a hotel I only sleep in between work and tango, my life has become astonishingly out of whack.

Of course I'm the only one whose surprised by that revelation - and that's the point. The people around me have been patiently waiting for me to notice that everything else has been sliding - my writing, my work, my relationships outside of tango. I have managed to maintain a few friendships outside of tango, but distantly - and always worked in around the milonga schedule. Where I used to build and work to maintain common ground with those closest to me, I've now let that go untended. The bridges aren't burned, but they're not in good shape. My attitude, though I don't think I every really expressed it directly to myself or anyone else, has been one of "they don't understand". Where the important lesson is that I haven't been trying to understand. I've been taking the easier path and hiding out from the people and things that need attending.

Tango is a tough journey and teaches so many valuable things for the whole of our lives. Seek first to understand. Value the experience of others. Respect the needs of the people around you. Take care of yourself.

And the biggest lesson in tango - first, before everything else, take care of your partner.

A lesson I left at the milonga.

It's time to take home what I've learned and find some balance.


tangocherie said...

Mari, you're describing what happens to many people: there just isn't time enough to do it all and to do it well. Generally we have to choose our priorities. Eat, sleep, work, love, family, tango--how much more can we do?

Anonymous said...


You touch so many topics that are close to my heart. And this one comes especially close. I have had the same realisation recently - after many months of mostly ignoring even my dearest and dedicating every spare moment to my new-found addiction. In fact, I was even justifying this by saying it's their choice.

I have recently realised I need to strike a difficult balance, and it's my job to do that - and I must stop penalizing people for not being part of my passion!


Anonymous said...

LOL, Mari! You are right on track, schedule-wise, with Tango. After about a year or two, we suddenly wake up and realize that everything, EVERYTHING, in our lives has be tangofied: our wardrobe, our music, our thought processes, our friends. And because of what we have learned from tango, we realize we need to rebalance our lives.

I will not lie: it is tough. I'm in a 13+ year relationship with someone who does not dance Tango...

Mari said...

@tangocherie - priorities are exactly what it comes down to - that, and accepting that I have limited resources (time, energy, money everything) and I have to make choices. I kept thinking at some point it would all fall into place and I'd be able to do it all. It just doesn't work that way.

@aa - that was the realization I had too. At the milonga, I (mostly, lol) knew that I needed to take responsibility when I hurt someone accidentally - physically or emotionally. I wasn't taking that responsibility home. My focus was always "you don't just don't understand." or "Why won't you enjoy this with me?" My life got too compartmentalized. I'm getting the impression this happens a lot. :)

@Johanna - I'm so glad to hear from you. I was wondering where I was on that list of tango stages. I can't find the link anymore - but I hit "Selective" pretty abruptly. I think it's natural for relationships to go through a sort of renegotiation of terms periodically, I just hadn't shown up to the table to even talk about it. :/ I'm glad to know that there's hope for the tango and non-tango-dancing couple. :D

Kirra said...

A wise woman once said to me, 'Honey, there is no balance, only boundaries.' It was a bit of a revelation to me since balance is a very fleeting thing.
I have been in a non-tango partnership for 16 years and have two kids under six. My tango community knows that I have only so much time to spend on tango and don't expect me to go to everything. I have to prioritize my tango activities.
In saying this I have been at this tango/life balance thing for over 12 years so am not in the first blush of true love with tango.
Good luck and let us know how you manage.