“It’s like this and like that and like this…”
-Dr. Dre + Snoop. And also Jesus, quite often.
As many wise teachers know, similes and metaphors are super useful in simplifying ideas. That is until they’re not. And lately, the verbal pictures used to preach “self care” have left me wanting. From my conversations with (seemingly always tired) Milagrans, I’m not alone.
How we think about things matters. And not in a ridiculous “just stay positive and you’ll beat cancer” way, but in this way:
The stories we tell ourselves about this life can change the way we live it. And my favorite plot twists come not from a newly introduced idea, but from a reminder of truth I already knew in my bones.
They say I have to find time for self care. That I can give and give and give, but eventually I’ll need to give to me, so I’ll have more to give. When I think I’m spent, I just need to hit the ol’ “refueling station” (wine? a pedicure? chocolate cake?) and I’ll be ready to go for another week or two. In the midst of all my doing, I need to schedule something else to do, so I’ll then be able to do more.
The racing from pit stop to pit stop feels awful. Here’s why: That’s not how it works. That’s not how ANY of this works.
I heard the real truth in my brain like this –
“Hey there, li’l ego. Why don’t you hop in the backseat? All that good you want to do and love you want to spread? It doesn’t *actually* originate with you. You’re just the delivery system. Your only job? Leave the gates open. That’s it. Not difficult, as long as you can remember it.”
“And also, that whole idea that when you give, you’ll then become empty? SUCH a human concept. Those economics don’t apply here. Goodness and love are not a bank account you drain. They are an inexhaustible current. Leave those gates open and you’ll find a steady trickle doesn’t leave an empty reservoir. It forms an earth shaping river.”
No hustle necessary. No martyrdom. No “I just have nothing more to give”. No extra line items on my to-do list. Just remembering reality. Which actually requires slowing down, doing less, listening more.
It’s less “self care” and more “self understanding”. Understanding who I am (just the vessel) and why I’m here (to allow the flow, inbound and outbound).
It’s not something I do, it’s the assumptions on which I build my life.
So when I get the inkling I may be “empty”, I picture myself as a tiny little shot glass, sitting upside down under Niagara Falls, whining about having nothing to give.
“Hey, weirdo. Just flip yourself right side up and all that excess will naturally spill over.”
Nothing further to do, just remembering “it’s like this….”