Sunday, February 12, 2012
Wisdom from unexpected sources
If oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment, first put on your own, then assist others.
Way back in time at the end of the 20th century, when self-help books were everywhere, I thought I might write one based on the wisdom of airline jargon. Of course I didn't write it - how ridiculous. The urge to do so was based on one thing they always say, paraphrased above. If you aren't receiving enough oxygen, you won't be of much help to others since you'll probably pass out before you can do anything. First put on your own, THEN assist others.
Being selfless isn't always a bad thing. In my practice, I often work with mothers of young children. They run themselves ragged trying to be as nurturing, mindful, fair and loving to their kids as anyone could ever be. I'm in awe of their devotion and commitment to being great parents. By the time they come for healing, they are always a little bit amazed by how exhausted they really are. It's one of the great benefits of receiving massage - it's a self-diagnostic experience in which people discover areas of tension they weren't aware of before the session. Therapeutic massage brings heightened consciousness as well as relief. This is why I do it!
After a certain point, though, the well runs dry, as it were. If these beneficent moms don't stop when exhausted to tend to their own needs, they are no longer able to function, they're no longer capable of being the kind of parent they want so much to be. That's when people get brittle, moody and unnecessarily harsh with their kids.
It's ironic that people who work in - for instance - environmental not-for-profits wear themselves out as well, to the point where they can't put two and two together, let alone save the planet. I love to remind these folks that they, too, are part of the landscape, and to overwork themselves is the same thing (on a smaller scale) as strip mining or clear cutting. This comes as a revelation to these people though they rarely slow down.
Once I had a client who was a labor lawyer. He regularly worked 90 to 100 hour weeks. If you do the math, you'll figure out he worked all night at least one day every week. He didn't think it was funny when I mentioned that people fought and died for the 40 hour week once upon a time. But he took it in, quit that job and started working for the Peace Corps. The 50-60 hour work weeks at his new job felt like slacking (to him).
I haven't posted here in a few days because I've been overwhelmed by my workload, not only with clients on the table, but internally as I've processed the goings on of late. People all around me have suffered strokes, heart attacks, the deaths of their near and dear ones. It has been a challenge keeping up with all of it, hence I haven't had the juice to write here.
I'm breathing, taking in beauty, sleeping a lot, laughing out loud whenever possible, stretching, walking and doing all the things that help me get from one day to the next. In this way I put on my oxygen mask, so I am able to assist others.
I hope and expect that the onslaught of intensity shall pass, as all things do. Until then, I might not be writing a lot here. OK? Thanks for understanding. Shalom.