I’ve been in the kind of nasty ‘holiday blues’ headspace where I need to re-read Jack Kornfield, the Buddhist writer and practitioner, to keep a grip on things. I won’t go into the details of the holiday blues except to say that between just before Christmas and around now is full of dates that suck, and I don’t just mean the big ones of 25 December and 31 Dec.
I got home today and flopped on the bed. I picked up Jack and opened randomly (I love bibliomancy) to this:
What is truly a part of our spiritual path is that which brings us alive. If gardening brings us alive, that is part of our path, if it is music, if it is conversations…we must follow what brings us alive. (The Wise Heart, p203) (Yes I know that’s supposed to be indented but stupid wordpress wont play…)
Backtrack a little and read that bit about flopping on the bed. That’s my clear sign of not feeling alive. I’d spent my day doing intellectual, officey things in an office that is by far and away the nicest I’ve ever worked in. The people are pleasant and very dedicated, and its doing something directly related to my field of academic expertise. By any standard, I should be doing backflips of joy. I’m not. I’m coming home and flopping on the bed, snogging the cat if she’ll let me and actively resisting the desire for several glasses of wine. On the positive side it’s not taking me as long to recover as in my previous job, but the pattern is still there.
I’ve written previously about work and careers, and I’m none the wiser these days. I wished, hoped that having kissed the old job goodbye I would see a new path for myself. That the universe would throw opportunities and people in my path, and that out of that combination of newly freed me and chance, there’d be some alchemy. I’m after nothing less than fundamental transformation. ‘At last’, I’d cry, ‘I know what I’m here for’. Today, therefore, is a bitter and depressing experience.
In the old job I was heard to compare office workers to factory workers from the early Industrial Revolution. Tied to a machine for hours on end, with no control. My inability to switch myself off and be a worker, dedicated to one corporate task, sitting rigidly all day in front of a screen is a strong characteristic in me. Nothing about what I did today, or have ever really done at work, has brought me alive. Which is not to say that some of it hasn’t been useful and good. A lot of it has been crap too. But it’s never made me feel alive either.
So when I went to bed last night I bibliomanced again and found an answer of sorts. Society doesn’t want us to be alive.
‘Being requires accepting oneself and staying within oneself and not doing to prove oneself. It is a discipline that is accorded no applause from the outside world; it questions production for production’s sake. Politically and economically it has little value, but its simple message has wisdom. If I can accept myself as I am, and if I am harmony with my surroundings, I have no need to produce, promote or pollute to be happy.’ (Murdock, Maureen, The Heroine’s Journey, p128, italics in original) (ditto on indenting!)
The only creature I know who’s got that mastered is the Iron Paw. I feel I have a long, long way to go on this journey.