As I’ve mentioned before, a writer’s homework is reading.
Since moving to Australia, I made the conscious decision to incorporate more Australian literature into my homework routine. This also doubles as a measure of my cultural competency: where once I used to trip over “textas” and “trackie dacks,” I’ve now mastered many of Australia’s colloquialisms. (I think) thats a good thing.
At the recommendation of one of my housemates, I dove into Jennifer Down’s Our Magic Hour, an aerial view of life after loss.
In an exchange between the protagonist, Audrey, and her partner, Nick, Audrey is scolded with a hard-hitting metaphor:
“Your religion is other people’s happiness. It’s absurd.”
We all know at least one person who fits this description. That person could very well be you.
At first, I was turned off by Nick’s condescending and combative tone. To me, selflessness is a virtue; we live in an increasingly “me, me, me” society, so to extend your hand, your heart, your home to someone else is most certainly a religion I’d ascribe to.
As I let the idea marinate, though, I began to see it in a different light: as with any religion, there are extremists. In this case, an extremist is someone who gives everything to others and nothing to him or herself. Often the comparison is made between someone’s reserve of physical or emotional energy and a gas (or petrol, for you Aussies) tank. As the fuel line creeps towards empty, things like exhaustion, burnout, and despair are likely to surface. You hurt yourself, which hurts others.
For a long time–and, in some cases, still today–I was an extremist. It took a lot of introspection and frustration before I learned the importance of gifting yourself the gift of yourself. Ever taken yourself out on a date? I highly recommend it! Though terrifying at first, you soon learn how enjoyable your company truly is. And when you realize that, you are better poised to offer it sensibly to others.
That’s why I think it’s time we all think about losing–or at least balancing–our religion.
Which brings me to a question: how do you balance your needs against the needs of others?
Many x’s and o’s,
PS. Can we all please take a second to give an Olympic-sized shout out to Team Canada?! These performances at #Rio2016 have me beaming with pride to call Canada home. I can’t wait to see what Tokyo brings to the stage during Sunday’s closing ceremonies!