Once upon a time there was a girl. She was curious and lively and she really didn’t give a rat’s ass what others thought. She climbed trees and ran with boys and was also kind and sensitive and let herself cry…even without having a good reason.
As the girl grew up, it became harder and harder to be that way. The tiny Voice that once whispered to her as a child – the Voice that sang to her,
“You can be anything or nothing at all. Whatever you choose to be you’ll be.”
That Voice grew smaller and smaller and smaller, until it almost f a d e d a w a y.
So the girl replaced the Voice with boys and worry and doubt and an endless search for the perfect job. She obsessed over money and calories [how easily we seek perfection when our Voice isn't there to guide us] ... and she all but fell a-p-a-r-t.
Then one day over lunch with her boyfriend, she felt a tug. A strange feeling in the bottom of her GUT that said,
“You’re not who I thought you were. I’m not who I thought I was.”
She shrugged it off and ignored it and shut that door (tight!).
“But we’re so right for each other" she cried, "and what about X, Y and Z?”
“What about our future together?”
“No,” the Voice said, “it’s not for you.”
And the girl began to listen as the Voice grew louder and louder, until one day the boyfriend was no longer her boyfriend. And the Voice said,
“You may rest.”
Months later she heard it again – telling her another thing she was reluctant to hear:
"YOU ARE GOING DOWN THE WRONG PATH!” it cried.
“But what if?”
“But why me?”
“….LISTEN…” it begged.
This time instead of turning her back on love she turned away from money, security, a definite direction. She turned away from everything she’d come to expect of her life. And there was pain and fear and
an ocean of
And it was very hard. It rained tears and the ocean grew bigger and scarier and the girl felt like she’d just float away – like there’d be nothing to keep her tethered to the ground, to the life she’d come to know. Yet in the midst of the storm and the noise the girl still heard the Voice. This time it wouldn’t tell her
“Go this way” or
“Go that way.”
This time, as the girl strained to hear the tiny whisper deep within her she heard a new song:
“Say what?” the girl asked from the middle of her ocean of fear and grief and loneliness.
LET GO!! the voice screamed again.
And this time instead of waiting and questioning and wondering about 1-2 -3 and X-Y-Z and money and calories and direction and fame and all of those other people in the peanut gallery, she did just that.
She jumped in the water.
And miracle of miracles, she didn’t sink or get swept away (at least not too far) because suddenly she was that girl again. The girl who wasn’t afraid to get her feet wet, to climb trees and to ignore what other people thought. Soon she felt her feet hit solid ground. The tide descended and the sand felt warm between her toes.
And the voice said
“Well done. You may rest.”
And while I love those moments, I sometimes feel like it’s not a “real job”. After all, what is it that I’m actually DOING? During the work week I sit in a lot of waiting rooms, I stand awkwardly like a fly on the wall in court and am a necessary interloper in the most private of affairs. I inject myself into touchy situations and personal moments and sometimes I wonder: “For what?” To change words from one language to the next? I often feel like an automated language service, not unlike the phone lines the hospitals dial for emergency situations.
On days like this I know deep down that this job isn’t for the long term. That it doesn’t meet my very human need to be an active participant in my life. It doesn’t offer health insurance or benefits or security. But then I remember that little boy crawling towards his mother and the woman who, last Tuesday, waited anxiously, desperately, for proof that her late-in-life pregnancy was there, alive and growing inside of her. And I remember that often our role in life isn’t to be the star of the show, the most obvious character in the play. And then I think, Enough. This is enough for now. I am enough.
The energy drainers:
- Lifestyle Choices: We all require energy to live but some lifestyles (being overly busy, focusing on consumption or mindless activities) require much more energy than we should be spending day in and day out.
- Physical activity: We often over-exert ourselves during a workout or over-extend ourselves with commitments, leading to a hurried life and physical exhaustion.
- Relationships: Often a relationship can demand more energy than the amount of positive energy we receive from the relationship. We can also waste energy by focusing on past relationships or relationships that need repair (without taking action).
- Work that is not meaningful: Each day we are given energy to put towards a meaningful endeavor, but some jobs or work environments can use up that energy before we’re able to put it to good use.
Here are some changes that we can all make to spend energy in a way that gives back (to ourselves and others):
- Figure out whether you gain more energy from internal or external sources. If it’s internal, schedule alone time. If it’s external, call up a friend for coffee.
- Examine your day to day activities and reevaluate what really matters. Do you really need to watch that late night t.v. show, or would an extra hour of sleep be more beneficial? Do you need to spend hours shopping for a new item, or could the one you already have be good enough?
- Focus on the types of exercise that leave you feeling more energetic, instead of worn out. Do you dread running? Try yoga or taking long walks.
- Take a closer look at the relationships in your life: Which ones are draining? Which ones give you positive energy to carry you throughout your day? Consider which relationships need mending and which ones need ending.
- Think of the moments when you lose track of time because you’re fully engaged in an activity. Carve time out of your day to do more of that thing.
By taking starting with a few small steps, we can regain energy and put it towards more enriching activities.
(Photo via vrno.)