On a hot day, a man was walking through the desert. The midday sun beat down upon him. He was parched, desperate for water. In the distance he saw a well and walked toward it. Upon reaching the well he tried to pump water for himself, but no water flowed. The pump was dry.
He noticed a note stuck to the well which said, “If you have reached this place, you must be in urgent need of water. To the right of you is a full vessel. Use this water to prime the pump. You are free to take as much as you need, but when you are finished, please refill the vessel so the next person can drink from the well, too.”
The man did as the note said, primed the pump, drank to satisfy his thirst, then refilled the vessel for the next person.
In this story, you are the next person. You need to keep enough to prime your own pump.
Just lately I have been exhausted, parched for my own understanding and love. But when I crawled back to my place of rest and comfort, looking to be replenished, there was nothing there. I had given out everything I had.
Life can be like that. We focus on others and forget ourselves. There will always be people in need, and it is not our responsibility to care for everyone. This can be tough to do, to keep some of our energy for ourselves when others are in pain. Guilt dominates all reasoning and we forget ourselves.
Why do we do this? There is something inside us which says the pain of others is greater/more important than our need, in that moment. But we must make sure that there is also enough in us for the next moment. Pain is a human experience, and no amount of rescuing will take it from the world. There will always be someone near us in pain and it’s okay to care, but not to sacrifice our own life.
In love, Jenny