December 29, 2015

When you feel like giving up, what do you do? {Editor’s Letter}

There’s a fine line between self-compassion and bravery. There’s a fine line between cocoon and machismo.

When burn out compounds burn out, we give up.

It’s only natural. We’ve got to take care of ourselves.

But what if, as the quote goes, most of us give up when we are but steps away from the solution—most of us turn around when we have only to turn one more corner before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

2015 was, superficially, an amazing year for elephant. We grew from, what, 8 staff? To, what, 25? We got an office, for the first time in 8 years (I like to work out of cafés, but the team wanted something more stable). After years of working ’round the clock, I now have most of most evenings off. Our readership grew 100%, yet again. We improved our quality and started an online training Academy.

But burnout is, personally, still high, and setbacks are frequent. And while this song might sound like it’s about me, it’s not. You have children, or you have work, or you have your own struggles and challenges in life. We all have our hills to climb. And at what point do we know whether to forge ahead, to refuse to give up…versus letting go, and taking care of ourselves?

After all, bravery and self-kindness are both vital and yet work to cross purposes, sometimes.

When (if ever) to give up on something is a personal question that demands a personal answer. I can’t tell you. Your mom can’t tell you. Your girlfriend or husband can’t tell you. We have to decide for ourselves.

The good news is that we feel feedback constantly, if we’re open to reality. I go into that in a little more depth here. So if we’re not exercising, eating real food, sleeping…we’ll feel the consequences. If we’re hiding or giving up too quickly, we’ll feel the stultifying haunting of our cocoon [Trungpa]

So basically it’s about balance. But balance is tricky stuff—sometimes, we have to power through, sometimes, we have to stand our ground. Balance does not mean living life in a putputput second gear. It means revving sometimes, and idling at others (and leaving the car behind and walking or biking on a sunny day).

Any parent can tell you that balance flies out the window in the face of sacrifice. If your child is crying, do you ignore it and take care of yourself if you’re feeling wiped out? No. You go beyond what you thought you could do, as in my favorite poem.

So while I’ve felt like quitting a good deal over the last six months, and taking up the life of a full-time writer (ohhh how I’d love to take a vaykay…and a vaykay from Facebook), I’ll keep pressing ahead.

Elephant’s potential to be of benefit to millions is only just coming to fruition. In 2015, we reached 100 million readers with 350 million articles, videos, cartoons, poems read or viewed. Our goal is nothing less than to offer a fun, yet fundamentally caring sane point of view in the circus-like landscape of degraded modern media. With your help we’ll be able to pay more and more (we paid $75,000 of your subscriptions) to our consistent, best writers to offer more and more good reads and videos and an app and a cleaner website for you and your daily life. We want you to have a mission (not dollar) driven, sane, fun reference point for your life—it’s that simple.

With the help of Yoli, Renee, Lindsey, Emily, Cat, Katarina, Sarah, Sara, Toby, Dave, Travis, Corti, William, Carlos, Caroline, Caitlin, Ashleigh, Pippa, Samara, JoJo, K (maybe), B (maybe), Erin, Khara, Nicole, Pam and myself—representing 7 different countries in just about every timezone—we hope to double in size and, more importantly, improve in quality and reach yet again this year.

For in reaching beyond our core, or choir with an accessible yet mindful message, we may begin to be of benefit to a sweet, wonderful world gone mad with speed and greed.

Thank you for everything—without your reading and sharing, we would not exist…and I surely would have given up.


Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,


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