I’m out in the woods again, with my grandfather.
I feel tired. I much, much rather go to sleep. I tell him. He looks at me and reflects my longing for rest. There is so much acceptance in his response, so much understanding, such a deep desire to support.
As soon as I hear his reflection, something shifts. I feel relieved, energized. I realize how I never open up to being penetrated by my fatigue. I never bring Tonglen to my exhaustion. Just resistance: I should not be tired, I should chunk along, I should finish all my self-assigned duties till I fall asleep. And -of course- the comparison: Obama doesn’t get eight hours of sleep! Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t take days off to space out! Sister Teresa worked relentlessly to relieve suffering! Who am I to complain and sit down? They slept way less, and got much more done!
I feel surprised by my own rejection of my fatigue.
And today, with my grandfather, I allow myself to get to know it. And as soon as I do, the energy that I had invested in my resistance frees up. I get in touch with my excitement about my work with my clients. I feel so proud, honored, and happy with our partnership. I feel touched by their invitation to witness and embrace the rawness of their pain. I feel amazed by their courage to step into a life of vulnerability, aspiration, and connection.
My grandfather and I find a spot to sit down. He looks me in the eye. “Elly, your job is not to continue where I left off, your job is not to relieve hunger in Africa, to bring peace in former Yugoslavia. If that had been the case, you would have long done that. Your job is to find your passion and purpose in life. Your job is to contribute right here, right now. Your job is to be where you are in this moment and do what you love to do: work with your clients on self-acceptance and self-compassion, encourage them to step up to the plate, and inspire them to bring their unique gifts to the world. Your job is to open up to all the places where you are stuck, where your judgments and labels take you out of compassion and acceptance. To empathize with the needs underneath your enemy images and create a space of connection, inclusion, and support. That is how you inspire people, that is where your leadership is.”
I look him in the eye. There is a sacred silence. I get him.
My fatigue has been dissolved. I feel empowered and encouraged.
I am ready to do what I love most: being more fully me and support others from that place of authenticity and vulnerability.
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