Shifting Gears

Last weekend, literally right after I finished writing my last blog post, my cousin Daniel flew into town to visit me.  We had a most awesome time being tourists together, and eating more delicious shellfish than I have ever ingested in a year, let alone a 72-hour period.  (My kosher-keeping grandmother was surely rolling over in her grave.)

On Daniel’s last day here,  we were somewhere between the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden and Van Dusen Garden (I’m all about the gardens) when our conversation turned to my “situation” – not working, that is. Our talk dredged up lots of old emotional baggage, and actually helped me work through some of it.  By the time the day was over, I’d decided that I was ready to start looking for “a job.”  We talked about my looking for a job with a higher paying salary than my last job, which paid less than the one before that, which paid less than the one before that, which paid less than… you catch my drift.  Daniel urged me to consider reversing that direction, and I agreed to consider his point.

The big “aha” for me was simply that my search for creative fulfillment can and will continue even while I’m working at something else.  I still hold the vision that one day it will all come together, maybe sooner, maybe later, but in the meantime… well, there are bills to be paid.

Ah, it all comes down to money, doesn’t it?  Lynne Twist writes as if she knows me in her book, “The Soul of Money“:

“Each of us experiences a lifelong tug-of-war between our money interests and the calling of our soul. When we’re in the domain of soul, we act with integrity. We are thoughtful and generous, allowing, courageous, and committed. We recognize the value of love and friendship. We admire a small thing well done. We experience moments of awe in the presence of nature and its unrefined beauty. We are open, vulnerable, and heartful. We have the capacity to be moved, and generosity is natural. We are trustworthy and trusting of others, and our self-expression flourishes. We feel at peace within ourselves and confidant that we are an integral part of a larger, more universal experience, something greater than ourselves.

When we enter the domain of money, there often seems to be a disconnect from the soulful person we have known ourselves to be. It is as if we are suddenly transported to a different playing field where all the rules have changed. In the grip of money, those wonderful qualities of soul seem to be less available. We become smaller. We scramble or race to ‘get what’s ours.’ We often grow selfish, greedy, petty, fearful, or controlling, or sometimes confused, conflicted or guilty. We see ourselves as winners or losers, powerful or helpless, and we let those labels deeply define us in ways that are inaccurate, as if financial wealth and control indicate innate superiority, and lack of them suggests a lack of worth or basic human potential.”

Ultimately, Twist writes, “Money itself isn’t the problem. Money itself isn’t bad or good. Money itself doesn’t have power or not have power. It is our interpretation of money, our interaction with it, where the real mischief is and where we find the real opportunity for self-discovery and personal transformation.”

I have spent a lifetime seeking that self-discovery and personal transformation. The last week in particular has felt like an intense relationship therapy session, with me and my “money” sitting side by side on the couch.  Here is what I am currently telling myself:  yes, I am applying for “jobs,” and yes, I will have “a job” in the near future.  I look forward to being of service by offering the skills I have to a new (to me) organization, to learning new skills, to having more structure in my day, and to creating more financial stability in my life.  And here’s what my money says back: I’m cool with that.  So I guess we’re cool, my money and me.

I’ve loved this “time off” and will appreciate it for however much longer it lasts.  But I’m beginning to look forward to finding where the opportunities lie in the everyday experiences of whatever job I get… opportunities to learn and grow and be happy.  Wherever you go, there you are… and wherever I work, there I am.

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