It’s too much. I quit.

Wow. Unexpected incoming communication.

Two people can’t make the fall retreat.

A dear friend passed away of cancer.

Surprise news that what I thought I was offering in Year of Inquiry for “credit” was not the case inside Institute for The Work.

I hear a story about a very close friend from his family member that’s sort of shocking and weird.

Violence in Las Vegas.

More hurricanes.

Someone sends a really direct, cold email asking “Why did you do that? Don’t ever do that again!”

Weird, abrupt commentary and communication. A lot of it.

I notice I feel a little taken aback. Something’s shaky. The world seems a bit wobbly, or my feelings about the future. I sense things moving away from me. I feel like sadness is behind things, surprise and hurt, and grief.

I’m now anticipating something else could be incoming. I’m bracing myself. Storms.

I have an image of someone getting beaten up or kicked and they just go into a protective ball and wait until the one doing the kicking stops. (And I suppose the one kicking is the world, reality).

Kind of dramatic. Definitely Not Friendly.

I note that none of the incoming pieces of information are unmanageable all by themselves. I even laughed when one of two of them first arrived. Chuckle…that story about my dear friend can’t be true, can it? Haw…that’s bizarre with the whole credit-offering process for my year long immersion program getting withdrawn.

Yikes…that person’s email is so over-the-top. Ouch, in-breath gasp, more shootings. Ack, so many people without shelter.

It’s just they started adding up.

The reason I could tell I was getting a little over-filled with some dramatic or sudden incoming information or cold human behavior?

I had the thought “I’m shutting everything down.”

When I have this thought, it means I’m believing something’s too much, too heavy, too chaotic, too difficult….and one of my Go-To thoughts is STOP IT ALL!

In one hour I imagined selling my little cottage, breaking up with my husband, leaving the city I live in, canceling my plans to build a cottage for my mom in my back yard, quitting my business, and ditching town for another continent.

I know I need to do The Work, when this happens. Even if I’m not believing everything I think.

This is too much. I can’t take it anymore.

Have you ever had this thought? You’re getting pushed to the limit. Not one more thing.

An inquirer the other day in our Year of Inquiry group was just feeling liberated after doing a month of The Work around his separation from his wife. Then they skyped, she told him some different news, and he had the thought “Not more of this! I can’t take it!”

Another inquirer I once worked with had done several years of The Work around her suicidal teenaged daughter. The threats were in the past, she felt alive and free again. And then her daughter said she was pregnant. “Noooo! I can’t take this! I’m pushed past my limit!”

One of my relatives had a fender bender, and hours later had her purse stolen, and a few hours after that her toilets overflowed in her house. “This is too much! Why me?!”

It’s funny how sometimes the stress piles up. It’s one thing, then another, then another. Piling up to feel like the water’s getting too deep and we’re going to drown.

Let’s do The Work.

Is it true?

Waaaah. Yeeeesssss. It’s too much at once. Nooooo moooore!

Can you absolutely know it’s true?


How do you react when you believe it’s too much and you can’t take it!?

I feel smaller, closed in. I have images of the collapse of life as I know it. Doom. Gloom. Scary pictures. Separation. I don’t feel helpful to other people. I pull in and do Sea Anemone Pose. (That’s the yoga pose of those little sea creatures when they squeeze into a tiny ball because something threatening is swimming overhead).

Who would you be without this thought that it’s just too much?

Noticing how life has gone on, quite fully.

Someone else sent a beautiful, friendly, kind email. Someone called and left a lovely message. Someone pinged facebook messenger with a sweet question about a mutual friend. One of my favorite broadway guys raised a ton of money for Puerto Rico.

I hear the dryer full of laundry rolling around, comfortingly. The quiet sun coming through the blinds. The soft eyes of an inquirer who came to spend 3 hours of time (a mini-retreat) with me yesterday afternoon who shared so honestly.

I consider the profound sorrow and courage of the Year of Inquiry group this week going deep, deep, deep as we entered our Family of Origin topic and people did The Work on their childhood despair, violence, fear, suicide, uncomfortable sexual moments, feeling shame.

Hmmm. Holding all this is a lot.

But not too much. I’m breathing. I’m writing. I’m here.

Turning the thought around: It’s not too much. My thinking is too much. “It” is too little. 

Could these be just as true, or truer?

I see that “it” (reality, the world, all these communications, what I’m going through) is not too much. I’m alive. I’m still upright.

My thinking is the thing filled with images, threats, future fears. It repeats the same concerns over and over again. Someone wrote me one cold email, and I consider it 12 times more. A friend gets sick and dies, and I feel the whole world is sad. I see images of terrible weather patterns increasing.

What about the turnaround that “it” (reality, all the incoming experiences) are too little?

Too little to change the inner sense of being here, feeling alive. Too little compared to the vastness of all I can be aware of, which is much more than all these things.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses 

your understanding. 

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its 

heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. 

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the 
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem 

less wondrous than your joy; 

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, 
even as you have always accepted the seasons that 

pass over your fields. 

And you would watch with serenity through the 

winters of your grief. 

Much of your pain is self-chosen. 

It is the bitter potion by which the physician 

within you heals your sick self. 

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy 
in silence and tranquillity: 

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by 
the tender hand of the Unseen, 

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has 
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has 
moistened with His own sacred tears.

Kahlil Gibran

Who would I be without my story? Doing what I can to help. Connecting with other people. Feeling peace, silence, being.

Watching how things come, and go, like waves or the tide.
Much love,

9 Replies to “It’s too much. I quit.”

  1. So very sweet, Ben. I love what you say about isolation and self-deprivation and that honoring what you need is the most powerful, brilliant thing we can do. I am thirsty, I go find water, or I try. Not a rock, a human being. There can be interesting things to learn from a rock, but BEING the rock isn’t the goal–haha. That would mean failure. Much love to you and deep appreciation for your sharing and connection. Loving you! Grace

  2. Your name is not Grace by accident.

    It was so good to have “coffee” with you this morning. I think I am isolating myself. Isolation is a perverted form of solitude. I love solitude. Isolation? It’s a form of self-deprviation. Maybe Katie is wrong. Maybe we do need each other after all. I am not a rock. I don’t want to be rock. I love people and feel I am more “me” when I am with “them.”

    Somehow I got it wired that I need to stand alone. That if I go out to a bar, or go to a meetup, or call a friend , all because I feel lonely then I am being weak.

    Enough! Genug! Basta! C’est assez!

    And yet I am afraid to say this because I am afraid the old rock will come back, the island, the “me.” The iceberg will re-arise.

    Thanks for the talk. It was good to hear someone speak the words my mind is saying. Not colluding, just sharing. On equal terms.

    Love Ben

  3. What a beautiful note, thank you so much for sharing. So powerful to feel the stunning grief and nevertheless through inquiry be with reality, and find the joy is here as well. –Much love, Grace

  4. Thank you, Grace, for yet another all-too-true-to-life Grace-note that reflects daily life and suffering SOMEWHERE in the world every day. I LOVE that you included Khalil Gibran’s insightful writing about (human) pain. Back in the ’90s, I came across this same Gibran passage during a time that I was still fighting my way out of a deep depression. I repeated that first line of this “pain” passage over and over again, in wonder. My conclusion? It gave DIGNITY to the battle I had been involved in! And it has proven true; after emerging from the battle, I found myself acting much more empathically. I used to think I knew everything – before depression humbled me!

    Not only my depression battle, but numerous other instances of “pain breaking the shell” (along with Katie’s Work) have served to comfort me to understand that yes, we MAY “watch with serenity through the winters of [our] grief.” When we question our troublesome thinking, we ARE granted the gift of living peacefully with “what is.” We can ALWAYS find our way to living life with joy. Reality is always kind; but our thinking is not always so! (Katie’s Work has been SUCH a gift to humanity!)

  5. Thank you grace for your wonderful emails. Love your honesty and humor and your writing comes to me just when i need it. I am not a member of yr group directly but rather indirectly thru yr lovely commuications. By listening to u i see me We are the same. U are beautiful and great and inspiring!! Much gratitude.

  6. Beautifully shared. I love the link, it’s been a very long time since I visited Don Juan and a Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Lovely reminder. Blessings to you–Grace

  7. Grace dear, thank you for finding and sharing seasonal words and pictures of comradeship and comfort with us, from the writings of dead poets and the eyes and mouths and emails of living inquirers.
    Here are more:
    “This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

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