Sometimes one just wants to run away. It's all so overwhelming. Responsibilities, duties, goals, relationships, earning money, staying happy, keeping others happy - nothing makes sense anymore. I was at a point like that. I felt I didn't want to do any of the daily chores - answering email, getting daily tasks done, making calls to people - I didn't want to do any of it. To be honest, there are days even now when I feel this way.
I want to run away from it all.
And then there are days when I am so 'on it'. I make decisions, I rip through my to-do list, I get things done, I support people, I make things happen. Or rather, I should say - things seem to just happen.
Imagine that these are two different islands.
One is filled with marshy, slippery, wet, slimy stuff that sucks you in and slows you down. Everywhere there are obstacles, thorny bushes and rocky scapes. The other is has green grassy turf, rolling countryside and sandy beaches. Wherever you roam there is the wind behind your back pushing you forward. Things happen. There is speed and action.
Two islands - Pump island and Dump island.
There is a strange phenomenon that occurs. When you are on one of the islands, you get so engrossed that you lose all memory of the other island.
So when you in the flow and making things happen on Pump island, you forget that there is a Dump island. You forget what no-flow feels like even though you have been there enough number of times. And when you are on the marshy quicksands of Dump island, you forget that not too long back you were on Pump island.
The two islands are not too far apart from each other. It does not take long to get from one to the other. In fact, there is a convenient ferry service between the two that runs quite frequently. I know what you are thinking. You're going "but why would anyone want to go to Dump island?"
But in reality, people are constantly shuttling between the two islands. We are constantly flip-flopping between states of being pumped and feeling in the dumps. The degree and frequency vary for each one. Whatever may the case, each of us are regular passengers with the ferry service between the islands.
And, no matter which island we are currently on, almost each and every one of us forgets about the existence of the other island.
In reality, both islands are beautiful and we need both together to create our life. We have to visit the islands regularly. Our daily business and our relationships are spread out across the islands. We also need to ferry. That's the only time we get a view of both the islands at the same time. That's the only time we are on neither island.
We need both the islands and the ferry.
Ok, I've tricked you a little. I've made Pump island sound very desirable and happening, and Dump island sound very undesirable and tiring.
But, let's re-look it this way - on Pump island, there is no food and water. Things are fun and flowy, and things get done. But there is no rest and recovery. Things tend to become boring after something. There are tiny flies that come out of the forest every now and then. Their sting is not poisonous but irritating and itchy. They make you feel restless and hollow. After some time, even success and results lose their sheen. One searches for newness, growth and challenge.
On Dump island, there is marsh and slime, but there are also fruits that grow that are sweet and nourishing. There are groves where you can lay down and rest. The marshes and mud get you stuck and sometimes icky, but also there are gentle cool winds that blow that cool you down and make you feel rested. There are mysteries and surprises and lots to explore and learn. There are challenges to be solved, life lessons to be learnt and people who need your support. There is a feeling of community, and people seem to want to help each other.
Of course, all this is make-believe. But do take a moment to think of the similarities between these islands and our lives. We often tend to want that life should always be smooth and effortless. And so often it is. And that's beautiful. Maturity is to be able to see the wisdom of life even when things are not going our way.
Here are some questions to ponder on:
Which island are you on now?
When was the last time you were on the other island?
How long do you typically stay on either of the islands?
What do you enjoy about Pump island and Dump island? What do you not enjoy about them?
What does the ferry ride between the islands signify for you?
What do the flies on Pump island signify for you?
What do the fruits on Dump island signify for you?
Whichever island you are on now, remember that the other one also exists and you will be on that soon. Neither are too good and neither are too bad. You must learn to enjoy both. You must also enjoy the ferry ride. And along the way, there will be many people who may be able to use a little help from you to find their way. Enjoy that too.
Everything in life is a gift and an opportunity. We just need to learn to see it that way.