Monday, November 03, 2014

August Moon 2014: Day 9, Just one thing?

"Today I invite you spell out the range of things you are and would like to be....

How could you a cultivate a life that reflects all that you truly are?

I think the intent of this prompt was to examine who we are and what brings us joy, and how we might create our whole life, work and all, around this concept to actually make a living at what we love doing.

I'm not in the 'making a living' part anymore since we retired. Thank God(dess), we have enough to allow us to live comfortably without (much) worry. There are always things beyond our control, of course, like fickle stock markets and economy-crashing disasters, but that has always been true.

I AM in the business of making a life, however, and retirement really offers an opportunity to look closely at how I want to spend the time I have left with this life. It's a little daunting as well: we spend years and years doing what we need to do (nevermind that we have chosen to undertake a large part of it -- in our choices of jobs, spouses, children, activities) and getting it all done one way or another.

 To have time to do whatever we truly want to do is not an easy decision for most of us. Sure, sleeping in, reading books, gardening, cooking -- whatever we enjoy doing -- is a large part of it, and a fun one. But there are larger questions: is this truly what I want to be doing? Should I be doing more? Am I too old to have a do-over? Is there a larger purpose than what I have seen so far to my life?

In my choices of jobs during my working life, I was fortunate: mostly I was working in areas that I felt a strong attachment to, a passion for. It was never about the money for me, although there is no question that I needed the income. But it was about how I could contribute my passion, my talents, my knowledge to the field in which I was working. Those were mostly non-profits or public sector jobs, jobs with purpose and meaning and which touched people at some basic levels.

It was not until much later in my working life that I was employed by corporations and my efforts were really directed at putting money in the stockholders' (or owners') pockets through my skills in marketing, writing, and creative flow. While the money, at least in one, was far better than anything I'd ever earned in a non-profit or public sector job, the job politics were ah-ma-zingly difficult, especially for one who pretty much takes people at their word. I was pretty much doomed to fail. When they finally laid me off in the third or fourth company reorganization I'd survived, I was delighted -- and careful not to let them know that. It was a soul-sucking, ethically challenging experience, and I learned some good things from it -- but also suffered extreme stress.

That was my last 'office' job. From then on, I was self-employed -- and that, too, is stressful in some ways, but so freeing in so many others.

So now I am two years into retirement and am wanting more substance, more purpose to my days. There is still housework and regular chores. There is time, if I choose, to read and to cook and to putz at different little projects. There is time to sort through clutter and choose what to keep and what to let go. There is more time than I'd wish spent in going to doctors and getting medical tests, and more attention to physical issues. But there is also time to travel and to pet kitties and talk to my honey and my friends.

But that does not necessarily make for a fulfilled life. I want more. I want direction and purpose. And only I can find that -- through going within, through contemplation, through self-examination.

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