This wasn’t always the case. In fact, I used to feel very strongly about there being a kind of seamless connectivity between my work life and my personal life. At one time, most of my friends were colleagues or people I met through work, and my freetime activities were often related to my work. But in recent years, I’ve turned from that.Lately, my private world has itself become much more varied. It isn’t just one alternate world I enter on weekends. There are several others I occupy, and different groups of people I connect with in various ways. And this weekend, Ponczka and I travelled into two of our precious other worlds, one of which was Cape Croker, where we attended the annual Pow Wow.
And at Cape Croker, I had a surprise. Among the groups of dancers from Native communities of the region, was a group invited to demonstrate the drumming and dancing of Aztec cultures. And among the members of this troupe was a former colleague of mine. Ligia Segura and I worked together at Dixon Hall, more than six years ago now. We worked in different facilities, so didn’t have daily contact, but there was always a good vibe between us, a sense of being on the same wavelength and sharing important values about our work.Seeing her today cast Ligia in a totally different light. She was arrayed in a traditional outfit of leathers and silks, I believe, mostly blue, which she says represents water. Her headdress was a crown on slender feathers, each about two feet long, and around her ankles were arrangements of hollowed chestnuts that rattled pleasantly with her every step. She was radiant, and dignified in a way that underscored that she was representing something larger than herself. She danced barefoot, and with an energy and focus that was akin to what she brings to her work, but which I recognized as having a quality that would’ve been out of place when working with clients of the underclass, as we both do.
We got to sit and speak for awhile, and I shared about the burnout I’ve been experiencing. And among Ligia’s words to me were encouragement that I cleanse myself of “all that doesn’t belong to me.” And she referred to her own spirituality, and the role it plays in keeping her healthy in the face of all the toxic energies we are faced with daily.That phrase of hers, about what “doesn’t belong to me” really penetrated. I immediately felt the truth of her observation, that burnout has a lot to do with picking up and carrying around toxins, expectations, worries, troubles, fears, traumas, even hopes, that don’t belong to me, or on my path. It also reminded me of the duality I’ve recently been living – keeping so much of my life separate from my work life. I’m realizing that the flipside of letting go of what doesn’t belong, is to carry what is mine wherever I go, into every place and every interaction. Because, if I carry my core into each of the worlds I straddle, however fractured my life may sometimes seem, there is a wholeness that will endure.