Thoughts on the profession

A Burnt Out Case

While I am not quite ready to go find a leper colony in the jungle, it is clear that I am becoming a Burnt Out Case.  There are cracks in the facade, and plaster is starting to rain down.  Work and school used to be my sanctuaries.  I could go and teach or do a massage and be so fully in the moment that I literally forgot everything else.  Even if the train ride in was a sea of screaming babies, seat stealing suburban tourists and surly conductors, by the time I walked into my classroom, I was the picture of calm, professional control.  When I went in to give a massage, I could disconnect from everything else and draw fulfillment from the simple act of doing something I love.

This week, though, it’s coming apart.  I try to tap into those endless reserves of grounding, calming strength, and I find that the connection is lost.  Somebody unplugged my grounding circuits.  I try to fill myself up with breath, and I can almost literally hear the echo of wind in a hollowed-out soul.  This week, I got a new client.  A friend referred her to me.  I almost didn’t take the appointment, although I desperately need it.  I barely mustered the energy to do my best massage.  Afterwards, I had only enough energy to pick up the crappiest food I could find and sit on my sofa trying to hypnotize myself with computer games.

Just in time, I think, I realized what this is.  This is what burnt out feels like.  This is the thing I spent all those hours in Ethics lectures warning students against, and making sure they knew the signs and the dangers of ignoring those signs.  Well, crap.  Now it looks like I need to take my own advice.

I used to think that knowledge was the answer.  The more I learned, the more energetic I felt, and the more I wanted to do.  More classes.  More challenges.  More studying.  It turns out I was just pushing myself further into my head, where the gasoline and matches live.  Whoosh.  Burnt out.

I find myself looking longingly at pictures of mountains and streams — truly quiet places with no trains or cars in the background.  I have just enough left to get through the summer, then I think it is time for this Burnt Out Case to seek a brief sanctuary in the mountains.  Massage sabbatical planning is under way.

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