It’s been said that a person can get used to anything. I guess it depends what you mean by “get used to”. I think we can get numb to almost anything. Even the idea of the world ending.
Burnout is a chronic problem in activists communities. And that’s no less true of the Post-Doom community. I’ve seen it happen to others. And I’ve experienced it myself.
So, if you’re feeling burnout, I have some advice.
First of all, know you’re not alone. It sounds cliche, I know, but in my experience, hearing that helps.
Second, know that, while knowledge endures, intensity of feeling waxes and wanes. You have to ride the wave, the peaks and the valleys. Our culture teaches us that we should be intensely happy all the time and intensively active all the time. But that just not human nature. So take a break.
When I’m in my valleys, I like to read this excerpt from Rilke: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” Remember: No feeling is final.
Third, and finally, pull your head out of your ass. I don’t mean this in an insulting way. And it applies to me as much as anyone else. But I think, to a certain extent, the anxiety that we experience when contemplating the “end of the world as we know it”, it’s, well, a function of privilege. We have the time and space to worry about a future which is not immediate. And that’s privilege. It’s not bad. It’s just a fact. And knowing that tells us something about how to respond to it.
The answer, I think, is to refocus on the present, on the joys and sorrows of the now.
Find some small pleasure to enjoy. Eat something delicious. And be intentional about it. Take a hot bath, or just take a minute in the shower to really feel the sensation of the hot water. Pull your car over and watch that sunset. Let yourself laugh. Enjoy the company of your friends. Enjoy your life, and refuse that nagging voice which tells you you need to feel guilty about it.
And then try to help someone who is struggling worse than you or some place that is worse off than where you live. Maybe hand out food at a food drive or serve plates at a food kitchen or bring someone groceries. Maybe pick up some trash in a neglected place that you can see the beauty of. Or just be kind to someone, let them know you’re glad to see them, that they matter to you. Find some small good you can for someone else.
This will help ground you. And it’s good work to boot. And then, when you’re ready-and only when you’re ready-you can return to your labor of love.
Originally published at https://anotherendoftheworld.org on February 26, 2022.