I recently heard back from a friend of mine who is gradually adapting to retirement. Essentially he said that it’s challenging to cope with the guilt he sometimes feels for not doing anything that directly contributes to improving society. My own mental response surprised even me:
Sometimes the best we can do for the world is to look after our own sanity and well-being.
I’m not sure where that came from exactly but it felt and feels eerily true. If we manage to keep ourselves sane, then we are already contributing positively to society. And I have to recognize that staying sane, balanced, and “in our right minds” has become increasingly difficult for a number of reasons.
For those of us who feel compelled to serve, to make a difference in our families and communities, we, too, run the risk of overextension, of burnout. Attending to our own needs may become secondary. Taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor vain. It is essential to our self-preservation and ongoing growth. We cannot perpetually move forward if we do not build in phases of recovery and recreation along the way.
Keeping our eyes on the prize does not exclude getting sufficient shut-eye to insure that we are equipped for the next round of struggle. Stepping back for a bit can provide space for fresh perspective- and stock-taking. It seems that the more involved we become, the harder it becomes to respect and nourish our own boundaries. We sometimes must remind each other to put on our own masks before assisting others.
With this post I want to invite you to consider what forms of recovery and recreation help you to be and remain your best self. I will do the same.
And before you reach out to help once again, just check to make sure that your own mask is secure.
In your process of space-finding and perspective-seeking, I highly recommend stopping by at the Zen Teacher, Dan Tricario, for inspiration.
All the best in this ongoing endeavor,