Yesterday, I posted a status message on Facebook. It says “Follow your dreams. Go back to sleep.” I thought it was pretty funny and it got a lot of positive reactions.
Of course, there is a nugget of truth to that declaration. I think we’re required to be awake for far too long these days. I think we’re expected to be present in the present at all times and, more often than not, our own presence in the moment is not for our own benefit.
Often, when we are asked to show up, it’s so we can do things for other people.
Don’t get me wrong. Service is a wonderful thing. One of the things I learned about myself over the past year and a half is that I like delivering good work because I want to actually be helpful. It can be super fulfilling and, much besides, wouldn’t we dissolve into some terrible anarchic post-apocalyptic disaster if we refused to give a damn about other people?
But back to the point: service is all well and good, but every person can only give so much. Eventually, they start feeling empty. They can’t tap into their hidden reserves anymore because they’ve already been tapping into it for, like, the last 8 months. They haven’t had time to work on the work they want to do because something else needed to be done.
Also, they haven’t slept properly for about 3 months.
For some reason, most of us grow up thinking that going to sleep and being awake for ourselves is selfish. How dare we, when other people need us? How dare we, when we’re more useful in this capacity than that capacity?
Biggest clincher: How dare we, when we’re being paid to do it?
Here is the lesson I think I need to learn: it’s not “either-or”. It’s “and also”. The key is moderation and the choice to give within reason.
I still don’t know how to help people without going overboard. But at least I understand that helping others and gunning for my dreams don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
And at least I know that to be even remotely effective at either, I need time to sleep.
You probably need it too.