Work and Play by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.
Work and play is the balancing act of summer. This time of year the beautiful weather, blooming flowers, fresh cherries, long days, etc are truly a joy, one that most can recognize and feel deep in their being.
Free time often includes spending time outside and packing the schedule with all the things you can do in this time of year. People tend to be more social and eager to gather and our lives get really busy, the weekend warrior awakens in full force.
So there tends to be a buzz about having fun, new experiences, expansion, yet we still have to “chop wood and carry water.” This saying refers to maintaing the basic mundane aspects of life…..working your job, balancing the check book, cleaning the toilets, keeping a budget, tending to your low back pain, etc.
What I notice in myself and in our Talent clinic is we tend to get even more polarized during the summer months. The mundane feels more mundane and the quest for “joy” is never quite enough.
The ancient Chinese sages actually recognized this condition as over joy(too much fun). Overjoy is a pretty foreign concept in America where more is better. However, more joy often results in wanting more joy and then we start to feel kind of disappointed with our mundane lives. And so we pack our free time with more “joy.” And then we start to get tired and cranky during our chop wood and carry water time.
Overjoy in Chinese medicine effects the energetic aspect of the heart. When we have overjoy it becomes difficult for the heart to settle. We start noticing patterns like restlessness, anxiety, sleep problems, boredom, and fatigue. Wired and tired.
Last weekend Clark and I took our border collie, Stella for a hike along a mountain creek. After some walking we started throwing a stick for her to retrieve in the creek. After, 3 throws and the thrill of pulling the stick from the water and bringing it to us, Stella was out of control. Overjoy was in full effect and she began crying and running in circles. She stopped enjoying the “regular hike” and whined for most of the way back to the car.
So here is another opportunity to find the Middleway, to aim for somewhere in between the extraordinary and the mundane. The season of summer is naturally joy full, so the challenge is in taking enough time to balance out your joy with down time. Thus avoiding big swings in health.