On burnout, waiting, and wonder

You might find this strange and a little gross, but the other day I spent some time watching a beetle roll a little balll of dung across the road. I became fascinated by his perseverance and how he naturally made use of what for most living beings on earth is just poop. I don’t know much about dung beetles, but it strikes me on a metaphoric level how we need this kind of resourcefulness in our current world. What creativity could transform what we must leave behind into something sustainable and life-giving?

The most common refrain I’m hearing from folks these days is “I just wish I knew when this pandemic would end.” There is a lot of sadness with this question, as no one can offer anything but predictions or false promises. Maybe there is a higher authority on the subject though. Nature tells us:

Everything changes.
Change happens on its own time.

Many humans in the modern western world use plans for comfort. We want to know what to expect, and we like to have something to look forward to. In some ways, we’ve forgotten how to wonder, how to give our full attention to the lived experience of now. Perhaps there is some connection here to the dung the beetle was pushing across the road. I wonder, what ways of thinking make us feel worse, and how can we digest and eliminate them for the higher good?

I also spent time last week watching some turkey vultures. I’ve never understood why these majestic birds are so underappreciated and almost feared. It’s captivating, the way they circle the skies above, feeding on what has completed its life cycle here. These birds live because other creatures die. In this, they embody rebirth. The vultures teach us that a new cycle begins out of the one that came before. Everything is made use of here, in this place we live. 

When we let go of the individual pursuit of happiness as such a supreme cultural value, perhaps compassion can be reborn. When the experts can’t give us good answers, maybe we’ll witness a rebirth in honoring curiosity and intuition. As I see it, we don’t need more gurus, we need more empathic, creative people who trust themselves and each other. I’m not trying to draw a silver lining around a very dark cloud. The weariness and the grief are real and everywhere. Still, I believe in us. I believe in our resilience and in our ability to make changes for the better. 

A friend who is more like a sister to me lives in the redwoods in California, and the fires this summer came within a quarter mile of her house. She told me after the weeks of smoke, flames, and devastation, the birds were the first animals to return to the forest. The birds, of course, were the ones who could most gracefully leave and most easily return. Their protection lies not in being the strongest fighters, but in being the lightest on their feet. Who is to say what’s most needed right now in our own personal and collective struggles. All I know is there are some great teachers living amongst us who have been there all along. We may have to open the door and look outside to find them.

May you feel the support of the ground, the possibility of the sky, and the beauty of your own true nature,


PS– If you’re a helper or healer longing to feel yourself again, consider joining us in the Release & Empower online community for regular mental, emotional, and physical release. It’s self-care accountability and spiritual renewal in good company. As of the time of this writing, I also have two openings for individual holistic psychotherapy. And all are welcome to check out this new pandemic support book: When You’re Having A Hard Time: The Little Book That Listens

PPS– Sending some extra love to all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one this year. Big big hugs to you.