I want to stop feeling empty. This is the habit I am trying to look at this month. I don’t see tremendously bad stuff I’m filling the emptiness with (except possibly compulsive knitting?) but I do want to stop the emptiness. Or live harmoniously with it. Lean in, as wise counsel says.
It is pointless to spend time regretting the past, but I do want to harness the energy of this person from 20 years ago when she still created and believed in dreams for herself.
I was already feeling despondent about marking a half century and not thinking I’ve done enough. I was asking myself how it is I could go from being a person with a network of authentic friendships to someone who, after 15 years of working from home can’t think of a single solid non-virtual friendship (the kind of friend you’d call in the middle of the night if you needed to). When I passed an apparently kind and pleasant person on my daily walk in the woods WITH A DOG, my anger was fueled about how much my allergy to dogs has impacted my ability to form friendships, let alone my 7-day work schedule. I know I created the latter, but I don’t know how I created the former unless I did some karmically horrific thing to a dog in a former lifetime.
Then I attended an informational presentation about “The Future” for high schoolers which included a rational explanation of how a teen might choose a college and a career path. The chart included a scale of average incomes one could expect with various degrees. It all sounded so methodical, so logical, so rational. You choose how you wish to live and you go after the thing that will bring that to you.
Apparently the average income range for my level of education is $20,000 more per year than I have ever earned in 30 years post college, despite working 50-70 hours per week most of my adult life. My teen said I wasn’t helping her feel much hope about her prospects, and I left the room with a big scarlet F on my forehead for Failure. Never mind the wonderful folks with Ph.D.s I’ve met over the years who were washing dishes or waiting tables. You go, you overeducated brothers and sisters!
I could blame my income on the bad taste marketing leaves in my mouth and on my skin, or countless other perceived limits. (And yes, I have done a crapload of work on understanding to reject limits and give myself constant reminders to embrace the present moment with gusto with little more than transitory experience of freedom. Which could be more evidence of failure if I didn’t see through you, story!).
Here is where the Gratitude for Mystery comes in.
- I honestly don’t know completely how I have managed to meet all basic needs for 30 years without relying on public aid (except during 2 years of crisis preventing me to work full-time), but mysteriously I have.
- I have had opportunities to travel despite everything. I am 100% convinced travel angels are real when you are in an unfamiliar place, don’t speak the language, and are scared. This has broadened my perspective and education tremendously.
- I have no concerns for my teen’s ability to carve a future for herself that far exceeds mine, because she already has surpassed me by light years. Genuinely I am humbled and awed by her most of the time and wonder sometimes if the Mystery did some magic juju to have her fall from this tree.
- I have spent the past 15 years fully engaged with supporting and protecting the apple that fell from the tree, and as she moves toward independence, the emptiness rings louder and louder. Was nurturing this apple my life purpose and can I be content with that? It feels more accidental than purposeful. I was doing what came naturally.
- It is clearly time for a change for me sooner than later. It feels important for my survival that I leave the nest in some way. I just don’t know how or where to fly yet. Even at 50.
- Mystery, I see you, I thank you. Fill me up.
(not much change in 20 years, except everything
in my work reference books is now on Google, my screen is flat,
and Bill Clinton was president )