Do you ever feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?
I do. From time to time, it seems to me like if I don’t get it all together and write a brilliant tip or teach a brilliant class or have a brilliant coaching session, the world will stop turning, people’s lives will grind to a halt, my business will fail, my wife will leave me, and the fragile peace in the Middle East will fall to pieces.
On the plus side, I do get that this is extremely unlikely to happen. But when I’m caught up in thinking the well-being of the planet is my personal responsibility, it all feels terribly real and rather worrying.
According to Greek mythology, Atlas was a Titan whose punishment for crimes against the gods was to carry the entire universe on his shoulders for all eternity. What crimes do I think I’ve committed against the gods that have caused me to voluntarily take on Atlas’ burden for myself? What am I concerned might happen if I put the burden down?
I’m not a big fan of rhetorical questions, so when I ask myself those question and listen for an answer, I realize that my concerns are almost entirely made up of how I like to see myself and the damage my irresponsibility would do to my image of myself as a “good person”.
Do I care about people and the planet even when I don’t feel like a great human being?
Yes, I do.
Do I really think that the world revolves around me and without my 100% commitment to service, life as we know it will come to a grinding halt?
No, I don’t.
Fortunately, I can see that life was unfolding before I was born and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. And that while I have a role to play, I’m not the star of this particular movie. Which is a huge and blessed relief, because it means I can just relax and enjoy my life as best I know how to do.
I don’t need to suffer to be of service – in fact, over time it’s the one thing sure to stop me. Suffer long enough and you begin to shield your eyes from the suffering of others.
In fact, the simple but paradoxical rule of thumb seems to be this:
The more I enjoy my life, the more compassion I feel for the suffering of others.
Have fun, learn heaps, and be kind – to yourself and to everyone else!
With all my love,