Do you have fire-itis? Symptoms of fire-itis include:
- You’re beyond on fire, you have so many to-do lists you need lists for your lists
- You’re overwhelmed and/or exhausted
- You’re burning and brimming with ideas, inspiration, and you’ve got more projects on the go than the population of a small country
- You suffer from fire-itis’s cousin blender brain (aka there’s soooo much flotsam and jetsam floating around in your gray matter your head feels like it’s about to explode)
Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the spectrum and you’re down with lethar-gitis. You know you’ve got lethar-gitis if:
- You’re left cold, zapped of taking action
- Nothing much is lighting your fire these days, in fact your embers are the temperature of a deep freeze
- You’re having trouble getting up off the couch let alone getting inspired
- You’re bored and drawing blanks
During this season of celebration, it can be exhausting to be on either end of the fire-itis to lethar-gitis continuum.
And yet here we are. It’s the season of celebration, many celebrations in fact (there’s more than 30 listed in Wikipedia and those are only the fixed date holidays).
We’re on the cusp of a new year, with it’s fresh, clean slate.
I urge you to take some time for yourself …
and think about what fuels you and the level of gas in your tank so to speak as we speed into the new year. Seriously, go for a walk, write in your journal, have a cuppa (contents of which are up to you) with a dear friend, and/or gather some colleagues for a coffee klatch.
Then think about this very lovely story from influential adult educator Myles Horton, author of The Long Haul: An Autobiography. He had some chops as a teacher of Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks, plus some call him a father of the civil rights movement.
He spent some time riding the rails in the Southern States with hobos (itinerant men, so called because they initially came from Hoboken, New York). He came to learn a lot from them, especially the importance of fire.
For these marginalized men who rode the trains, danger was around every corner. And when they camped outside at night, they were especially vulnerable. Fire came to be utterly critical to their survival.
But as Horton witnessed, if the mean burned their fire too high, they would consume their precious fuel too fast and be left cold and even more vulnerable.
And if they burned their fires too low, they’d be cold from the get go and there would be no way to heat their food and they could fall prey to wild animals.
Horton applied his experience with the men of the rails to us and our efforts to effect social change.
Think of your fire, the one that burns in your belly. What level is it burning at?
If it’s too low you have no interest, no passion, you may have given up. Sound familiar? That’s right. You may have lethar-gitis.
Yet if your fire is burning too high, it’s all consuming. You may have no time for self-care because you’re so focused on xyz. Hint: you could be headed for burn out (pun intended).
Horton encouraged us to get our fires burning juuuuust right, neither all consuming nor so low that no flame is visible. That way you can be in it for the long haul. Because the world needs you and your special gifts. Both now and a decade plus from now.
So adjust your flame accordingly. Please. For all our sakes.
And in this season of celebrations I wish you time with your loved ones, peace in your heart and in the world and fire in your belly – enough to light the way forward into a beautiful new year.