So, yesterday I got invited to a dinner party over at the house of some friends nearby I often eat with. It was a small dinner party, of a kind I enjoy, with a married couple, a friendly and insightful widower, and myself. There was no hint of romantic tension, but it was clear that I tend to be a sort of person who makes for even numbers when numbers are otherwise odd. I am glad to have such a noteworthy and appreciated balancing role. The number four tends to be noteworthy when it comes to balance, and I would like to examine that aspect of the number four today. No one likes being the fifth wheel, and while three works well in trusses, it does not always make for enjoyable social situations when someone feels left out or ignored because two people are focusing on each other. Four, though, works better.
Four tends to be a common number when it comes to cycles or patterns. There are the four parts of the MBTI personality inventory, and the four main types of personalities. There are the four seasons, the four generational types according to Strauss and Howe, at least four types of frozen conflicts that draw my interest as a military historian, four gospels, and so on. What all of these share is a certain sense of balance. Four quadrants, or four people sitting around a dinner table, or even the four legs of a dinner table, are all balanced equally around a square. And that sense of balance is important in life, especially notable when one is dealing with small numbers of people. Balance is more noticeable in smaller groups, except if a larger group is extremely unbalanced. Otherwise, things tend to look more or less even.
I wonder why I would be ideal for balancing. After all, I tend not to think of myself as a particularly restful person in life, quite the contrary. That said, perhaps my flexibility and sensitivity to other people helps me to be a dynamic balancing agent. I suppose it is a good niche to have, even if there are some ways that I would like other people to bring a certain balance and harmony to my life that is hard to have on my own. I do not wish to be greedy, or overly demanding, but I know some very obvious ways my own life could use a certain balancing and completing. Something that obvious to me ought to be at least a little bit obvious to others, and hopefully in a good way. Nevertheless, I must work according to my own balance, and appreciate times when I get to chat about history and friendship and enjoy good food and good fellowship as the Sabbath begins. Surely, providing some balance and joy to others helps us ourselves.