Sometimes it feels like my brain is stuffed to the gills — if a brain had gills, of course. In my work, there are certain times of the year that feel like the seven seconds of a bull ride, except the seven seconds goes on for two weeks or even two months. A life that not all that long ago felt quite manageable and even easy-going has suddenly morphed into a juggling act of meetings and deadlines and unavoidable tasks. And here’s the kicker — not one of these responsibilities, taken by itself, is all that difficult. It’s the combination, the conglomeration, the complicated stew of stuff that becomes a little, well, crazy-making.
When you were a kid, did you ever get a jar, poke holes in the lid, and then run around outside at dusk collecting fireflies — maybe you called them lightning bugs — and put them in the jar like a natural lantern or a neon entomology exhibit? Well, if you can remember what it looks like to have 25 bugs desperately searching for a way out with their emergency flashers on, then you have a sense of what my brain looks like during these bull-ride moments.
And I know I’m not alone. Perhaps you, as well, face these times when it’s all you can do to stay barely ahead of the closest looming deadline.
During these intense times, we shift from our heart to our head. It feels like a matter of survival. I stop listening to my intuition because I frankly don’t have time. My daily devotional is a to-do list. My meditation is the monotonous hum I enter into while grading paper after paper after paper. My prayer is the plea I give to students to get their work in on time. And, truth be told, I know they have their own jar of fireflies to deal with.
At this stage, I know what my calendar says I have to do, and I know what my to-do list says I have to do, and I know what my internal chore-minder says I have to do, and . . . well, I think I know too much right now.
So, I’m going to take the only time I have, this moment here with you, to unknow some things. I’m going to steal this time, if you will be so gracious as to allow it, to set aside every deadline, and every item on that to-do list, and every piece of writing waiting to be created. For you see, even writing this was one of the fireflies bouncing on the walls of my spirit all week. I pondered and struggled and tried oh so hard to think my way into a heart message. And it really can’t be done.
When it comes to the life of the spirit, it is possible to know too much, to know so much that you become ineffective. From an overwhelmed brain we receive stress and frustration. This stress and frustration can lead to depression or anger or even illness. The antidote for an overwhelmed brain is an overflowing heart.
Now, let’s be clear, I’m not anti-intellectual. The brain has skills we need, and I’m glad it knows things. But the brain is a tool, not the boss. When it becomes the boss is when we have problems. In our busiest times, it’s easy for the brain to feel so indispensable that it thinks it’s the boss. And because our heart doesn’t blow its own horn as the brain does, it just sits there quietly waiting for us to remember it, waiting for us to realize that maybe we’re knowing too much and not feeling or being or loving enough.
So for this moment, I’m going to trade my to-do list for beingness and my deadlines for awareness. I’m going to sit here in this moment, with you, and let my consciousness expand into awakening. I’m going to release my stress and frustration and for just this moment feel only love and peace and joy. I’m going to remove the lid of the jar and let my light shine freely into the world, sending that love, peace, and joy to anyone with a willingness to receive it.
Do you feel it?
Yeah. Me, too.