Midway upon the journey of life, I found myself within a dark wood, for the straightforward path had been lost.
I took a course in college called ‘Great Books’, where the professor — a tall, emphatic lecturer already famous at the UM — talked extensively about the meaning of this line, the first line of Dante’s Inferno. Most believe the line is a setup for the narrator’s journey through the Inferno itself. This professor, however, had a different interpretation: it was an allegory for how Dante himself felt at that stage in his life — middle aged (at 35!), exiled from the city he loved, grappling with his own demons.
Throughout my own life, I also at times found myself in a dark wood. At the same age as the narrator — 35 — it became clear to me that I wasn’t the best I could be. Dealing with the emotional challenges of a startup and the daily attempt to juggle a demanding work environment with the everyday commitments required to be a present father and husband were taking their toll.
So at the beginning of 2015, I embarked on a journey with a simple — but by no means easy — goal: to be happy, and improve the lives of those around me (while still being effective at work and home). I changed my reading habits, picking up self-improvement & self-help books that I previously would have dismissed as hokey and treated with cynicism. I started learning eastern philosophy, practicing meditation and reading all of the articles on mindfulness I could get my hands on. More recently I started experimenting with diet to maintain consistent, healthy energy throughout the day.
I also started talking to others in similar life stages about their approaches to similar challenges. Quickly I discovered that I was not alone. I started to collect best practices from the people that I would meet. I realized that if so many of us are coping with the same challenges every day, it would be a valuable resource to make these daily practices exposed & available to others, too. The wisdom of the group always trumps the wisdom of the individual. Thus, the balance was born.
The balance is an interview series with a handful of people every month — high achievers with demanding lives who are always trying to get better. We discuss their daily routines, & how they achieve happiness and balance. I’ve borrowed inspiration from influential books such as The Power of Full Engagement, podcasts such as Jerry Colonna’s Reboot and long-form interview series such as Om Malik’s Pi.co (with, as I’ve since learned, a strong dose practical effectiveness tips a la Tim Ferriss). I am publishing these interviews on Medium, and also trying to learn how to develop a following for a small passion project.
Mostly, however, I am doing this for the greater good, for folks like me, and hope to touch and improve lives as mine has been through the process of sharing with others.