See these steps above? They look friendly enough on the way down but are brutal on the way back up. I remember once deciding to run these with a friend in a fit of solidarity (she was training for a marathon) thinking they couldn’t be that bad, only to discover even one flight up was like bootcamp. And by flight I mean Mt. Everest. Now I see why she was calling it “training for a marathon” and not “working out.” These legendary steps are almost always over-run with people and it is inspiring to be around. The scene is almost so picturesque it looks fake. How can one not be inspired running between two mansions down around a heart statue, marble love seat, between two manicured landscapes and palazzos all while peering 100 meters down at sailboats on a blue bay under immense sunlight. Yeah, it’s rough. There really is nothing to complain about in this scenario; but this is because we’re voluntarily giving up our energy. We’re handing it over to the steps quid pro quo. I burn my energy running up you and you take care of the glutes. Done. No surprises there.
What I have a problem with is the “Oops, sorry taking your energy now” energy vampires. They come in many forms. Most recently, a woman refused to shake my hand because she had a cold, but didn’t seem to see a problem getting within 5 inches of my face without asking permission. I could have forgiven her if she was from a densely populated country like India and it was culturally ingrained, but she just seemed like she wanted to get absurdly close to me to make up for the fact that she wasn’t shaking my hand. It was weird, but not that big of a deal. “Sorry, I don’t want to shake your hand and get you sick.” she explains. Save your apologies for when you really need them, I thought, I don’t get sick. Don’t sweat it. Well, guess what. I got sick. I never get sick. That is not an exaggeration. Since this never happens, I am sure there is a message here somewhere; so instead of getting bent out of shape about the wasted time that may be sucked for me, it might bode well to look at why all operating systems are shutting down right now. Can I will myself well in the next 24 hours? Yes, I am sure of it, but not without understanding something first.
Then there is the other kind of energy vampire – those keeping us from growth. Jane Pauley was interviewing Madonna in the mid-80’s, when she was in her mid-20’s and had just become famous. M always had street smarts and shrewd business acumen, but even then, she had much more poise and wisdom than people choose to give her credit for. Jane tried to assassinate her character (in a very veiled-insult, catty female kind of way) for steamrolling over people, using them to get to a certain place and then spitting them out. She did not paint a pretty picture. M’s response was that her desire was to be constantly growing and moving forward, and if other people didn’t share that desire or happen to move at the same rate she was, then why should she wait? She would love to take everyone with her, but how could she unless she made herself some kind of a babysitter or martyr? Makes sense. If something isn’t moving forward it is becoming stagnant, and if the system around you is moving forward then the stagnancy is going to eventually be going backwards or providing resistance to whatever is moving forward. This sounds like simple physics, right? So why does the person moving forward have to be painted like the bad guy? This happens all the time.
It is difficult to know where to funnel our energy – there are so many options and so many seemingly urgent needs around us. I don’t mind giving my energy to things or people that will keep cycling back into the energy field and adding to it, or helping in other directions outwards. I don’t even mind if my physical energy is depleted. But when the body speaks to us in a loud whisper, begging for attention and rest, it is best to look at what is really happening. The tank is on E and I am getting sick on top of it, and suddenly 4 people around me (ok, now 5 after that last phone call) are in crisis, then there is something that needs to be addressed, rejuvenated, replenished. Trust me, I am not slowing down like Yoda to listen to the messages, I’m simply not being given a choice. The symptoms force us to slow down, which forces us to tune in and listen, which hopefully teaches us something or gives us the opportunity to restore the engine without interruptions. What aren’t we hearing that is trying to be heard?
So instead of choosing to be mad at some well-intentioned woman who took my energy like Kryptonite, or feeling resentful of beloved friends devouring every remaining sliver of what is left of my vitality like an 8-course meal, it would be wise to heed the message. Ok, I get it. Roger that. If you’re not breathing normally, it’s best to downshift to 1st gear and figure out why. Or at least put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Or a spa weekend, a massage and a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Then maybe 24 hours of utter silence and no technology. Patient’s breathing and heart rate stabilizing…