Updated: Jun 29, 2021
How to find inner balance, so you can bring balance to your life
By: Naya Dukkipati
“You must gain balance within yourself before you can bring balance to the world” Guru Pathik, spiritual guide. (character from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”)
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them...and save the world." This narration appears at the beginning of every episode and sets up the audience for adventure. The story focuses on Aang, the avatar, who is a 12 year old boy. During his journey to mastering the four elements to defeat the fire nation, he encounters several obstacles: finding teachers, running away from the fire nation and enemies, bending earth. This can be exceptionally difficult because he finds himself having to treat his body as an engine in order to persevere; however, Aang always finds another way -- a more balanced way.
As a 12 year old boy, he has a lot he has to manage as he is supposed to be the savior to the world and bring peace to the four nations. His ability to shift between playful childness and strong maturity allows him to develop and accomplish his goals. As humans, it is difficult to be efficient as we have a myriad of tasks to complete from school/work to household duties. It is easy to get overwhelmed especially when you don’t think you are completing tasks well. That’s when you should reflect and realize that our less than completely optimal performance is down to one very understandable thing: we chose breadth and variety over total focus and narrow perfection, and that's a very wise choice. Focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others, has its costs, as anyone who's ever spoken to an athlete who trains 10 hours a day, tends to find out there's a cost to being the human equivalent of a machine. Unfortunately, our society has created an absurd idea that it is possible to do many things and do them all completely well, that's why we hear so much talk about an elusive thing called work life balance, a perfectly optimal career and a perfectly optimal home life. This is a mad idea, work life balance is impossible, because everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. We're not going to be at once the ideal child, student, and future businesswoman if we're strung out across multiple roles. Not everything will go well, but that's okay, that you're doing too much and none of it without mistakes isn't a sign that your life has gone wrong. It's a sign of a very wise and understandable position that you've opted for imperfect variety over flawless focus. This is what Aang discovered: a new definition for balance.
Throughout his development over three seasons, he learns to shoulder the burdens of being the Avatar without losing his inner child. His personality is such that even as the most powerful force in the Avatar universe, he will always be a kid at heart, making jewelry, riding various types of animals, and taking mini-vacations with gophers. At the conclusion of his character arc and the narrative, he proves that he is able to step up, push through the obstacles in his path, and do what needs to be done in order to fulfill his duties as the Avatar. Aang’s ability to balance his childish wonder and attitude with his responsibilities comes from his self awareness and inner balance. He knows and understands himself, yet is not afraid to show emotion and talk out his problems.
By the end of the show, Aang has learned all the four elements but has not mastered them, which his friends and himself think he needs to defeat the fire lord. He wants to then postpone when he will face him, but discovers he can’t due to extenuating circumstances. However, he is able to defeat him even though his journey was not perfect and he was able to bring peace and harmony to the world at the mere age of 12. While Aang might be a fictional character with supernatural ability, he is still a kid who has emotions and endures hardship like all of us. The key takeaway from this is that balance is based on happiness, so if you can find balance within yourself like Aang, you can balance your life to where you can fail, have fun, and accomplish your goals.
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