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.