AVOIDING BURNING OUT
I am learning not to fly too high or too low but to navigate the middle path. I have been struggling with a feeling of burning out on my days off.
There is a really cool ancient Greek story of Icarus and his father, Daedalus. There is this dad and this kid imprisoned on an island. His dad one morning said to his son: “Son…we are breaking out” He tosses at his sons feet these wings made of wax and feathers.
“Put them on, we are jumping off this cliff. Trust me it’s going to work” His son confused and in a panicked voice said “Uhhh…dad are you sure this is going to work”
“It’s fine son, trust me, just make sure when you fly, you fly the middle path. Don’t fly too close to the water because the fog will make the wings heavy and you will fall into the sea and drown. Don’t fly too close to the sun because the warmth from the sun will melt the wax and again you will fall and drown. Just fly the middle path.”
He saw his dad dash to the edge of the cliff and jumped off, dropping out of sight. His father soared above the mist and shouted for Icarus to join him.
Icarus in a panic as he heard the guards running, quick put on his wings and dashed after his father. As he started to fall, he started to flap his hands and just before he hit the set the air picked him up and he soar upwards.
Incredible…this might just work. They went up a little, down a little, up a little, down a little. Every time they went down, a draft picked them up and they went up again. Every time they went up, Icarus’ arms got a little tired and they went back down again. They stayed on the middle path.
But then Icarus noticed something. When Icarus went down closer to the sea, it was harder to fly, it was a little colder, a little darker, a little more scary, a little more uncomfortable. So he didn’t wait for the wind to pick him up, he flapped harder to go a little higher.
Icarus kept going higher and higher. He started to feel a little more warmth but he was still cold so he flew even higher. Soon he was flying much higher than his father but the sun didn’t feel warm anymore so he went even higher. Icarus was so focussed on getting close to the sun that he didn’t even notice that his wings were melting.
Despite flapping harder and harder, Icarus started to fall. He looked at his hands and realized that his wings were completely gone – they had melted away and he had not even noticed. He had forgotten about the middle path but it was too late. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.
I am Icarus. His story is mine because I love what I do and man, do I love soaring high! From Sunday to Thursday I get to be a highlight of your day. You don’t realize how much sunlight there is and how much it is a ray of sunshine in my life. I get to bring joy and fun into people’s lives. It is incredible and I soar high – as close to the sun as I can get.
But the classes end each night and when I come home and I’m not flying quite so high anymore, I start to feel a little cold. My brain is trying to reset itself. But I don’t want to calm down! I want the warmth from the sun and I want to go higher. So I watch more YouTube, Instagram, play video games…
From Sunday to Thursday, I keep just having fun, never levelling out…who wants the drop? Why would I want to sit still in the cold, in the discomfort.
But when it is my time to recharge on Fridays and Saturdays, I feel burnt out – not from exhaustion but from overstimulation. I feel depressed, anxious, nothing tastes sweet or is pleasurable.
I think: “What’s the point of it all?”
This week I decided to start to sit in the calm stillness (the anxiousness) and not just reach for a quick fix.
It’s hard! We live in a culture where when we feel uncomfortable, distractions are at our fingertips. Our cellphones, our computers, food, everything, anything can be a distraction. We can escape into anything but maybe that is a problem. Our cave-person brain, needs the low, the reset.
We need to learn that feeling a little less warmth from the sun, a little discomfort is okay. It gives us the chance to taste the sweetness of things again.
What I’m realizing is that by putting sugar on everything, everyday, even an apple tastes sour. So this week, I’m learning to embrace the discomfort, embrace the quiet, embrace not flying quite so high all the time so that my brain has a chance to reset and apples taste sweet again.
“We have to find a middle path, where there is neither joy nor suffering, only profound peace.” Paulo Coelho
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