Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 6, 2012

Leo, fifty-four, divorced, two grown children, financially secure, wants to “get off the grid.” He dreams of living in a remote area, far from “civilization,” but he is afraid he will get lonely and depressed. “That is an important consideration,” I say, emphasizing that although we all need time to ourselves, too much time to ourselves increases the likelihood of withdrawal and apathy. “Trying to find that balance is really tricky,” I continue, understanding Leo’s dilemma. “The rat race is getting to me. I talk to people all day long and although I enjoy my work as a financial planner, I am tired of talking about money all day long. “Do you have a relationship with your clients?” I ask, wondering if the joy in his work comes from helping people, in addition to the mental stimulation of creating strategic placement for financial affairs. “Yes, many of my clients are also my friends,” Leo responds without much feeling. “Would you miss them if you moved off the grid?” I ask, wondering how he feels about the notion of being separated from people he cares about. “Yea, a little, but I still dream of having a simpler existence.” Leo says, again in a flat tone. “Why can’t you have both?” I ask, wondering the obvious question. ” I could, but I don’t dream about both. I dream about giving this life up.” Leo says, with remarkably absent affect. I am perplexed by Leo’s tone. I wonder if he has been so hurt in his relationships that he feels that he has to retreat to lick his wounds. On the other hand, maybe Leo needs to create a safe environment for a while in order for him to connect with his inner being. It is hard to say, as I am just getting to understand Leo. He makes me curious.

8 Responses to “Balance”

  1. Shelly said

    Perhaps Leo is tired of being a breadwinner, father, in charge of large accounts–being accountable to so many people? Wouldn’t it be nice to simply disappear to a desert island and be accountable to no-one but ourselves? It sounds as if he has lived many years in such a competitive lifestyle trying to get ahead and providing for everyone else, that he simply needs time to get to know himself once again. I understand his need to connect with and rediscover himself.

    • Yes, but he also expressed hesitation meaning that he has mixed feelings. The issue, as I see it, is that one needs to connect with oneself, but one also needs others to feel a connection and a sense of meaning. Finding that balance is the art of living. Thanks, as always.

  2. Balance, balance, balance….did I say “balance”… :-)….but so important (people who know me probably think i sound like a broken record on this topic!). So many aspects of our culture…our world, are so completive…so busy, that so many folks don’t take the time to really get to know themselves and to “smell the flowers and pine trees” so to speak. Our world is not one of black and white (or shouldn’t be)…it is always healthy for all of us to live somewhere in that “middle ground” between solitude with one’s self and connectedness with others.

  3. jo said

    The way our society works makes it hard to find balance sometimes. I would love to do the work I do (for a living) for about 4 hours a day, but then I’d like to get up from a desk and do other things. But that’s not a realistic option for me and most of the workforce. So instead, we work at least 8 hours a day and don’t enjoy it all that much.

    • Hi Jo,
      I am not sure we can blame society for our life’s choices. You say that working four hours a day is not “realistic” but that all depends on your expectations. I understand your dilemma, as it is a dilemma we all face, but at the same time, we make decisions based on what we perceive our needs to be, when in fact we may not need things that we think we do. Thanks for your comments.

      • jo said

        Very true. The need for health insurance doesn’t feel like much of a choice, even though in the end, I realize that it is still a choice. I think I’m a pretty optimistic person, but I feel like I either sustain a full-time job that provides insurance or become a burden on the rest of society. I guess that’s what I meant by ‘the way our society works’. You’re right, it does have everything to do with perceived needs.

        • Hi Again Jo,
          Oh yes. Keeping your full-time job in order to maintain health insurance is indeed a very sticky issue, especially if you are also providing insurance for your family. On that point, I completely agree with you. Thank you for getting more specific.

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