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  • Writer's pictureSubha

The Importance of Finding Balance in 'Can You Hear Me?' Moments

Updated: 1 day ago

Life lessons from Trevor Noah and coffee table coasters

‘Can you hear me?’ By now, and yes, even now, we hear this every day on at least one virtual call. I didn’t expect to hear it from Trevor Noah standing 50 feet away from me, 30 seconds into a much-anticipated live stand-up comedy show.

But life has a way of echoing its own peculiar ‘Can you hear me?’ moments. Just like that unexpected glitch in a live performance, there are instances when life seems to pause, throw a question our way, and wait for our response. This was my second attempt and second unforeseen cancellation of a Trevor Noah live show. What was the universe telling me?

These moments are life's impromptu improv sessions, the unplanned comedy sketches that grab our attention. They're not just little blips; they're the cosmic winks inviting us to take a moment and reflect on the quirky story we're all co-writing.

When The Body Says… What Now?

I realise now that significant events in our lives can act as narrative bookmarks. Deeply personal moments like a promotion long overdue but just as sweet, or the loss of a job despite putting in a full day’s work every single day, or the weight of a milestone birthday, or the departure of a loved one. Intimate moments are expected to feel intimate and trigger existential questions.

I also realise that sometimes it is acts of humankind thousands of miles away. A father and son in a submarine together, thinking it’s the first of many such adventures in the deep blue sea. Forty-one trapped miners emerged after 17 days trapped miles deep in the earth. Millions watching and praying for a piece of metal to land on the dark side of the moon. Waking up to sudden declarations of war in a land far far away but the cries don’t feel distant.

These events, whether up close or seemingly detached, have a unique way of making your body tingle, demanding an immediate pause. They ask you to hold that thought, to digest the moment's weightiness. Once in a while, one in many, struggles to come out of that moment. It lingers. Asks more questions.

What next? Why me? How will I? When will I?

The Pause and Its Paths

In that suspended moment, reflections bloom. It's a natural human tendency to reevaluate, to wonder about the essence of our existence. Often, there are two diverging paths that beckon: the path of being and the path of doing.

As Trevor Noah turned 40 last week, he sat down with a couple of close friends on his podcast and reflected:

So What Now for me? I would say right now, I am trying to spend as much of my brain power on living a life well lived as I would normally spend on achieving things in life.Because I think depending on who you are, depending on how you've lived life, you may find it easier to do one or the other.
There are many people who are like in touch with their spirits and they're really connected to themselves and the earth and everything, but they can't pay their rent. And I mean good for you. You've connected to the Earth.There are other people who have spent all their time in the machine achieving, working, doing, achieving, working. And then at the end of their lives, they realize, I've never touched Earth.
I've never spent time being.
And so my goal now is to try and find a bit more of a balance and say, okay, instead of just trying to do, maybe I also wanna spend more time being, and what's interesting about it is it requires you to let go. It requires you to find moments where you're unsure. It requires you to do things you've never done before. And it's because if I think methodically about everything I do, which I often will, you think about the outcome, you think about what you're doing, how you're trying to do it, and how you're trying to get there.
So now I'm in a space where I go, huh, how did you rate your week or your month? Is it by the things you did or by the ways that you were? And so if I can respond a little bit better in traffic, if I can respond a little bit better to a friend, if I can respond a little bit better to myself in a situation…
(mildly edited from the episode transcript)

So when the pause demands an answer, take a look at the balance between Doing and Being. Most likely, the pendulum has swung heavily to one side.

What does Balance look like?

Finding a balance between doing and being requires letting go, embracing uncertainty, and doing things you've never done before (like suddenly starting a video podcast!). Now, as the pause demands an answer, consider practical steps to integrate this balance into your life.

Perhaps it's through journaling, mindfulness practices, or intentionally planning pauses in your routine.

I don’t do any of these. I pause by Doing! And that’s ok too.

I start and end the day by walking in circles around buildings listening to people I will never meet or know personally discuss a topic that I like or know nothing about. (Scott and Kara are my latest find.) I feel connected to new people and ideas.

I water my plants and wipe down the leaves and trim the weeds and pull out the dried leaves. I feel like I nurtured and supported a living creature.

I sit on the sunny chair and read the newspaper and finish the ritual by treating myself to the daily horoscope. (Having recently discovered that I was reading my Sun sign in a Moon sign horoscope, I have given rise to more existential questions. We will save that for another day.) I feel like I earned this me-time.

crochet balance

I crochet one coaster after another, eternally grateful to the random stranger who posted an easy but beautiful pattern. I feel satisfaction creating something tangible.


I, on impulse, asked a friend to join me for one evening in Mumbai to watch the grandeur of Mughal-e-Azam at a magnificent venue. I feel freedom.

I mix a salad with the strongest emotion of the day… sometimes it’s a gentle coming together of the greens and the dressing. Sometimes you just have to dump it all in a bowl and give it a shake! I feel seen and heard.

Think about the things, people, and places that bring you joy and calm, those moments when you are fully present. The 'Can you hear me?' moments will keep coming, Unexpected glitches in the grand performance of life. How will you respond? How will you find your equilibrium between doing and being in the ongoing narrative of your life? What will balance look like?

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