The German Lauenstein brothers won an Oscar for the best animated short in 1989, Balance.

It’s short enough to watch it.

It ends by all but one individual having fallen or been pushed off a platform floating in space. That one individual stands on one edge of the platform, the treasured music chest they have been struggling for on the other. The individual has eliminated the competition but cannot get to the chest.

He has to maintain the balance between himself and the chest in order to survive.

I couldn’t find online the “balancing act” sequence from National Treasure – Book of Secrets that was directly inspired by Balance.

There is a problem with balance: to maintain it sometimes you have to forgo what you yearn for.

We had a quiet Saturday yesterday.

We were talking and taking it easy.

Then we tried whether Pádraig could move his chair himself. Even over a short distance. Nobody likes to be pushed around all the time. Being able to decide independently when and where to go is huge.

He had been able to do this some time ago, of course. But then, while he was struggling with his right hip, this was too hard for his legs. But now he moved himself again.

First forward.


And then back.


I don’t think I can fully appreciate the sense of satisfaction, Pádraig must have got out of those short but independent moves. There is promise there. The promise to be able one day to go longer distances. To go where he decides he wants to go to.

We tested the outdoors. Getting ready for the pre-Christmas lowering of visiting restrictions and possible outside visits.

Someone with enough foresight had given this heater to Pádraig as a birthday present last May. It’ll come in really handy over the next few weeks and months, when people will hopefully be allowed to visit again – outside, with masks, and keeping their distance, of course.

I have been thinking about how to deal with really difficult situations. And ‘balance’ is what I came up with as the one thing that has to be at the centre of all considerations. When life gets out of balance we’ll eventually fall off the cliff.

Balance implies that we might need to give up something that is really important to us. That makes ‘balance’ somehow less attractive.

Why not have it all and have it now? Is balance not boring? Are compromises not for corrupt politicians? How can you ‘balance’ between oppressors and the oppressed? Should the killers be remembered on the same memorial wall as those they killed? Are there situations when it is worth risking to fall off the cliff, rather than trying to keep the balance?

The answer could be that risking to fall off the cliff means risking everything. That fall would mark the end.