It was a few years ago when my wife and her friend were having a conversation about personality and zodiac signs. They were talking traits about themselves and other people, how one is aggressive and goal-driven because of this sign, and how another is dominant and authoritative because of that sign, and so on.
After a while, I butted in, “What about me? I’m a Libra.”
“Libra?” She said, “You’re all about balance.”
While I do not take astrology seriously, and highly doubt that the time of my birth juxtaposed with the position of the stars have any bearing on my life, this made me pause and think because it was true for most aspects of my life.
I am not the workaholic that my father was. I enjoy a good balance between work and play. What would be ideal is if I could make my work as play — but I guess that is everyone’s pipe dream.
In terms of food, I enjoy a bit of everything. In terms of activity, I enjoy reading, playing computer games, and watching movies/TV series with my wife, but I also enjoy social activities like getting together with friends or meeting new people in freethinkers meetups. I also practice kali/arnis which I incidentally found attractive because of its balance between the rigid form-based philosophies of Japanese arts like karate or aikido, and the practicality of street-fighting.
My facebook friends list shows different extremes. The just-concluded elections showed that. There were friends who were extremely pro-Duterte while others were extremely anti-Duterte. I also have friends who are devoutly religious while there are others who are militantly atheist. Some are ultra-conservative while others are ultra-liberal.
I like having the best of both worlds. When faced with a decision to choose either this or that, I tend to ask, why not both? And I tend to find ways to get what I want from either side.
This is not to say that I have always been balanced. There are times when I have veered off to the edges. In terms of religion, I was born and raised as a moderate/conservative evangelical. Then my passion drove me to a form of charismatic/pentecostalism.
In one environment, there was a rigid adherence to the program. There was a set time for standing, singing hymns, communal prayer and so on. If the sermon went overtime, an old lady in front would shout, “It’s 11 o’clock already,” and that was the pastor’s cue to wrap things up.
In the other, the singing would just go on and on for an hour or more. There was wild dancing, people bursting out in “tongues” and rolling on the floor. It was chaotic and frenzied. People would clap, cheer and shout during the sermon.
Today, I am agnostic leaning towards atheism. I do not really know and cannot really conclude that there is no god or some form of higher power, but I live my life on the premise that he either doesn’t exist, or that he just leaves me to make my own choices and decisions — in other words, to live my life as I see fit. And there do exist forms of theism which accept this kind of thinking and I am quite open to them.
And of course, to balance things out, I’ve also read an article debunking the truth of zodiac-based personality assessments. A paper written by Geoffrey Dean and Ivan Kelly entitled, “Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?” talks about a large-scale study of twins (some born less than 5 minutes apart) having wildly different personalities — which effectively nullifies the personality assessments about them.
They also had detailed analyses of more than forty controlled studies showing that astrologers were not able to significantly perform better than pure chance in making predictions.
Still, seeing my personality laid bare (and accurate to around 80%-90%) in some horoscope websites was amusing. Sometimes, one needs to suspend disbelief and just play around with ideas to make life interesting.
This is the gospel of balance.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.