What Sustains Us

Not a single day goes by that doesn’t ask a lot of us.

Traffic asks our patience. Work asks our time. Friends, children, partners ask our attention. Our body asks our care. Not to mention the unscheduled asks of busted water heaters, unexpected guests, crummy headlines, families gone haywire, and the grocery store out of the one kind of tea that grounds us.

In many ways, it’s a wonderful thing that much is asked of us: we have much to give.

But if we give of ourselves without restocking ourselves, days can became exhausting affairs.

So our calling is an important one and a hard one: find the things that sustain us. And do them.

Without seven to eight hours of sleep, a morning walk, and some meditation, I’m toast. Perhaps for you, it’s time with the dog, cooking, and not checking your phone for the first hour you’re awake and the last hour before you hit the sack.

Maybe it’s drinking four glasses of water, 20 minutes of reading fiction, a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee, lunch away from your desk, a phone call with a friend.

While our sustainers are usually simple things, what’s not simple is doing them. The day’s urgent pulls can leave us thinking our workout isn’t important, there’s no time for morning writing, we need to skip the gardening.

Some days, that will be true. But the less we give ourselves our sustainers, the more our need for them grows.

So we take it day by day - better yet, moment by moment. If we can’t do 20 minutes of back stretches, we do 10 instead. Then back to 20 tomorrow.

We aim to be more flexible and creative than, “It’s this way or nothing at all!” We forgive ourselves when we fall off the band wagon. And we start again to give ourselves what we need each day so we can give of ourselves to the day.

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