The Little Boy Who Tried To Be Balanced
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a little boy, his siblings, and his parents. They were not obscenely rich, but they were certainly not in want. The little boy's parents were generous, but practical, and taught him to work for what he wanted, though he was never in need.
Once the little boy began to go to public school, he was not the popular kid, but he had plenty of friends, and good friends at that. They always had fun, and rarely got into trouble. Any trouble they did get into was harmless and, as that word implies, they never harmed anyone with their hijinks and shenanigans. The little boy's parents knew this, and liked his friends.
The little boy's parents believed strongly in being the kind of person who possessed a certain quality which they called "balance". When the little boy ate, they told him to be balanced, so he ate some vegetables with his burger. When he played outside with his siblings, they told him to be balanced, so he played "cops and robbers" with his brother, and "tea party" with his sister. Then he balanced his playing outside with reading, and his reading was balanced between science, history, and more fantastic tales of talking animals and far-off lands. He saw value in the idea of balance, and he strove for it.
One day the little boy spent the night at a friends house. He had a lot of fun playing video games, learning songs, and discussing which girls at school were cute (though obviously they were still filled with cooties). The next day, another of his friends called, and wanted to know if we would go see a movie with them. The little boy had done his chores for the day, he had read and played outside, and he was feeling quite balanced. But when he asked his parents for permission to go, they said no! Confused, the little boy asked why, "why can't I go? I have finished my chores, and I have nothing else to do tonight!" "You went out last night." They said to him, "You need to strike a balance, you can't go out every night."
The little boy was confused. He sat in his room that night and tried to read but was distracted. His parents' reasoning seemed faulty, but he just wasn't sure how, and the thoughts of how much he wanted to see the movie were distracting him. He thought about what it meant to be balanced. Did it mean preventing yourself from taking opportunities, simply because you had had similar opportunities recently? That was the only thing he could take away from the event. He did want to be balanced though, so he decided that that was what he must do.
He began taking only every other opportunity to see his friends. He sat with them at lunch less often (though he wasn't quite able to stay away as often as it seemed he should), played with them at recess less often, and sat next to them in class less often. Soon it became easier, because they sought him out less, played with him less, sat next to him less. But rather than settling on a balance, the trend continued! When his friends stopped trying to see him at all, the little boy reached out to them more, but he found that if he reached out to them, and they reciprocated, he would have to turn them down, and they stopped accepting his invitations.
He still tried to make friends, but none stuck around for long with someone who seemed so aloof and calculated. By the time he reached college age, he had no friends at all, and was continually "off-balance" because of it. One day, while walking idly on a curb, he lost his balance for the last time, fell into traffic, and never had to worry about friends ever again.
Sometimes it's okay to not be balanced, as long as you fall on the right side of the curb.