Because the title sounded like something right up my mental alley, I started listening to The Anxious Achiever Podcast, by HBR. It was right up my alley: a cocktail of stories around leadership amidst anxiety and depression.
The other day the guest on the show said something that stayed with me. He was talking about burnout and about how this all consuming condition does not come about when we simply have too much work to do. That may get us very, very tired but not burnt out. What burns us out are moments when we feel unseen, when we choose to trust and are proven naive, being surrounded by a sense of entitlement and at the same time a lack of real care and courage. Dealing with these day in and day out (at work or at home) depletes us in ways that are hard to recover from. That so resonated with me. It made me think about the environment in which we live and work every day and how important it is. And also about how we are the ones to create this environment.
One of the joys of my spiritual life has been my newfound community in The Chapel and in this morning’s prayer, Reverend Cindy Pincus made a great point about the way we show up for each other:
“And I’ve met teachers who say that the purpose of life is actually to become a walking blessing, to clean ourselves so well, to bless ourselves so well, to take care of ourselves so well that our presence alone is a blessing to the people we’re with.
And my teachers have taught me that this is actually what spirit wants for us to know, that we are absolutely worthy, that we are supported on every side by Grace in such a way that we can give ourselves and give our hearts to the world in a way that becomes a real blessing. […]
And so what I want you to do right now is just to check in with yourself and do one of my favorite exercises and to just put your hand on your heart and to feel the real goodness and the deep truth of this beautiful organ that we’ve been given, that in every moment and with every heartbeat, the three building blocks of the universe are pouring into it truth, love and energy. And so with your next in breath, just feel those three blessings coming in truth, love and energy, and they’re being distributed to every cell in your body and especially feel as they’re distributed into your hands and up into your eyes. And so you can say a prayer as you go about your work today. “
Holidays are tough. Yes, sure, they are beautiful. But they are also tough, especially for those of us often visited by burnout, anxiety and depression and the many, many who are grieving in this world hit so hard lately. Let’s not kid ourselves that, just because TV commercials try hard to sell us the season to be jolly and there are a few more lights blinking in the trees, that life just stops … lifing. I would say quite the contrary, when we stop running around offices and places of work and when inboxes become lighter, it is precisely at this point that we cannot help but stare into life’s big, green eyes and see everything we turned our faces away from all year. And it can be brutal.
I hope we can be blessings for ourselves and for each other this winter. I hope we can remember our humanness and discard expectations that fit the society standard more than our souls. I wish for each and every one of us that they feel loved even if ever so little.
To all I offer this amazing poem:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.Mary Oliver
Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash