“Ah, it’s all good. You can do it all.”
I’m sorry, what? Usually this is when I expect a lecture that begins with something like “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” and ends with, “well, something’s gotta give, girl, you crazy.”
I was talking — not complaining — about the fact I’m doing a full course load this semester as I launch headfirst into my Graduate degree and have also made the decision that I wouldn’t quit my day job. Hashtag blessed they’re related, but most likely the stupidest thing I’ve done in a long time.
I was sitting on a bench outside my University immersed in a string of work emails while on break from a 3 hour lecture on the Hebrew Bible that began in, you guessed it, Hebrew. I wasn’t in my right mind, but she wanted to talk and I wanted to talk and we met each other in that place where acquaintances divulge things to each other that they wouldn’t tell their lovers.
She told me about the week from hell.
I told her about the hell waiting for me when I finally realize just how big a mistake I’ve made.
“No,” she said, “you’ll be fine. Don’t take anything away, just add something.”
“You know, sign up for painting or whatever. Add something that feeds your soul. Then you’ll be able to do it all.”
It seems strange that I should need to feed my soul with things on the side when I’m studying Theology. I literally spend my entire day trying to decipher the beauty and catastrophe that is the work of God in this world and yet, my soul.
Of course I still have to worry about my soul.
I was once accosted by an aggressive evangelist on the streets of Downtown Vancouver. He bombarded me with the “have you heard the good news” and I assured him I had. Quote, Bro, I work for a church. Jesus and I are good, end quote. And he had the balls to respond to me, “just because you work for a church doesn’t mean you’re going to heaven,” and I thought: you know . . . touche.
I took a pamphlet.
Just because we immerse ourselves in good intentions and being the change we wish to see in the world doesn’t mean the cake is getting iced. On the contrary — it’s just sitting on the window ledge getting cold.
“Add something that fuels your soul.”
It’s easy to make excuses for letting our joy fall behind us when we’re doing something we deeply care about. But as anyone who has ever had to support someone in a time of struggle knows, caring deeply — loving, even — requires so much more of us than we can ever give. And when it’s all said and done, there isn’t ever very much left.
“Add something that fuels your soul. Then you’ll be able to do it all.”
The idea of filling ourselves right up is exhausting. Scary, even. We can only be so busy.
Ah, but to fill ourselves. To really fill ourselves isn’t to over do it. It’s to do it out of a place of abundance, from a place of excess.
When we are filled to the top of the tank with emptiness it stalls us. Usually right in the middle of the desert, after we’ve taken an unmarked dirt road to find a bush to pee behind. We get stuck — stranded — in the heat of nowhere and are left with 2 questions and 2 questions only: am I going to die out here or am I going to live?
When we make that choice — the “I’m going to live” choice — we do something amazing. We do EVERYTHING. We do everything we can possibly think to do, possibly imagine doing, and then we do more. We fill ourselves, so full we overflow into the Universe. We command survival. And we do it all not because we lie down and take a load off, but because we take on every load we didn’t know we could bear in the name of joie de vivre.
“You can do it all,” she said, and I didn’t believe her at first.
But I think she’s right.
all images by Kate Gabrielle