Monday, January 3, 2011

Next Installment - Will we really change our lives? pt. 2

(If you missed part 1, here)

Is it possible that I have become so detached from my current life that I would leave it?

Not my family, my husband and kids. Only for them would I stay, actually. There's no doing anything without them.

But this life. Does it have to look like this? Do we have to participate so fully in creating and reinforcing systems that are clearly wrong-headed and generated from an utterly hopeless illusion of self-interest which is ultimately inescapable in each of us? What did I just say, anyway? Who is this person?

A calling. What's a calling?

My mother-in-law told me, over Christmas, how one of the nuns at her high school called each girl into the office, individually, attempting to convince them that they had a calling to the sisterhood. When my mother-in-law politely said that she'd rather not, that she wanted to have a family, the nun told her that she would pray for her vocation. My mother-in-law politely declined. If I have a calling, I want it to come from me, she said.

Am I called to a middle class lifestyle?

Am I called to dust my small corner and smile, content with my lot?

I worked to get here, and here I am. It looks much the same from this point on the hill as it did from the bottom. I was wrong about what I thought I'd see from here. I'm just more sure, I can pick out details that once all looked like scenery.

Every day I face it, my ingratitude. Each night I choose one thing in my life that I'm grateful for to focus on before bed. It's made me very ashamed. This life should be good enough. I should be satisfied to do what is needed to keep this life going, just as it is, as long as humanly possible, because it is just that good.

Yet the urge is strong. Not to drop out, as my husband likes to put it, but to drop in. Drop back into the world by dropping out of this placid, rarefied, perfect life to try to actually experience. Whatever that means. Do we become hobos? Join a commune? What options are there, exactly, for people who want to try another way of living? Is there a handbook?

What do we really need? What is a happy life? What do we most want to maximize and minimize, and are we even trying? Are we living by rote, doing what's done, choosing for lack of choice in front of our noses? Do we ever even think about it? We're in a place where these questions need some attention.

I'm reminded of my little girl self, cowering in my nook in the woods while others were playing the game (read here). I'm hiding out in my perceived safe place (but is it, really, a sustainable safety?), writing a little from back here and hoping we can hang to what we have through the next set of challenges.

The game is rigged, and there are lots of carnivores out there.



  1. Wow, brave, big, questions.

    Worthy ones.

    So far, for me, I've been choosing to not pretend that the game isn't rigged, if it is. Because yes, it is rigged.

    Some portions of the game I still am playing. I still haven't quite leveraged myself all the way out of that game, and into a better one. And I know that they are rigged, and sometimes I go along semi-obediently, or at least I probably look somewhat obedient from the outside. Sometimes out of weariness from the battle, I even just give in, cranky and frustrated, for a while, for a little bit of, well not exactly peace. A little bit of coasting, I guess. And I try to forgive myself for those times, and mostly do. We start out where we are, we do the best we can.

    But for me, there's been a lot of strength in acknowledging, unflinchingly, that the game is rigged. Looking it in the eye. (It doesn't look back.) But it helps me, to name it that.

    And piece by piece, little by little, I do think I'm freeing myself.

    Do I know this will work?

    (And what would "working" look like, anyway? Is the alternative also a game? Does it have some kind of blue ribbon prize, proof, at the end? Probably not.)

    But do I know my strategy, of worming myself out, step by step, will work? No.

    When my dog was a puppy, and I would give him a bath, he'd try to very slowly climb out of the bathtub. As if, if he did it slowly enough, I wouldn't notice.

    It didn't work with the dog-bath, but I guess that's the strategy I'm working on. For me, it's about independence. It's about food sovereignty (a big one for me, actually). It's about what I call "owning my own soul". And the more I own my own soul in the meantime, step by step, the more I opt out of that rigged game, step by step, the more I think it is "working".

  2. Your practice, of tweeting something to be grateful for, at night, I often do too, now. To me it's a beautiful practice that has helped me focus on the good stuff. That I can go to sleep content with my day, if I can find one gem to notice, and appreciate. Often it does exactly that. I am grateful for your inspiration, on that.

    And I admire you, for your honestly in admitting that it makes you ashamed. But I challenge you with this -- maybe the shame isn't a sign that there's something wrong, that you aren't content with your lot. Maybe it's a sign that something is very very right. That you know in your heart, in your soul, that you are called to something bigger. Or something smaller, or deeper or whatever. Something else than a little 140-smidgen of gratitude. And that's where your discontent comes from. That's a good thing. Not a mark of your smallness, but a mark of your bigness.

    The photo above, looks to me like a family in that cave. I see a child, arms outstretched, to the right, and an adult, lying down, knees up, holding a smaller child on their belly.

    I think there's a lot more that's possible in the world, of what we can be, than the placid rarified perfect life we're supposed to be living. And yes, there are carnivores out there. And yes, I sometimes get really scared by them. Or other things that can go wrong. But what I gird myself up with, remind myself to be courageous about, is the same way I stopped being scared of rape --

    Yes, it is true, some man could theoretically overpower me and do violence to me. I am overpower-able. I am. It's true. Being scared of it doesn't change that, one way or the other. But if I am overpower-able, then it's because whatever it was, was bigger than me. And yes, there are things that are bigger than me. I am mortal. I am vulnerable. I am woundable. Would that be fun? No, of course not. Would I suffer? Quite possibly. But something is going to kill me, eventually, no matter what.

    But what kind of life can I craft for myself, in the meantime?

    I know this has been a long comment, too long for Blogspot, I had to break it into 2. I'm sorry for going on so long. But I just want you to know I am hearing you. Your words are not just being tossed to the wind, maybe to be washed up on a distant shore, maybe not. I am here, sitting here, hearing you. You have offered your hand to me, many times, on Twitter.

    Here is mine.

    Let's jump.

  3. oh my. seriously, how often can you be me in my past?
    although i asked those same questions, in the end i came back to where i was and learned to enjoy it, rather than going in another direction. that was my solution, it may not be yours.
    but keep asking them, the answers exist, you just have to turn over the right rocks to find them.
    and you will know your solution when you find it, it will leap up into your hands.
    your good, strong, capable hands.

  4. so what, the questions just go away? what end?

  5. sorry, that was blunt. but you get me.

  6. I don't think they go away. I think they shift - morph - transform into new questions. I think as humans we want the safety and stability of a certain life (even if it looks risky from the outside - it's what we KNOW - and of course the exceptions prove the rule). I think it's possible to go deeper within that safety - make it more conscious, make ourselves more whole. Or maybe it is a shift in direction - I now I've made several and each has taken me to new questions. Though the fundamental one is the same. Without giving up my husband, or daughter...what am I here to do?
    Thank you for making me think tonight...I'll take it with me as I head off to write my latest Classified Ad to the Universe.
    Sweet dreams.

  7. Again, I don't mean to sound as confused as I am, but - all this sounds like the eterna set of human questions: who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?

    For me, I am here because God wills it so. I am called according to His purpose, to fulfill His plans.

    Because this is the steel framework upon which my life is crafted, all of my endeavors are useless and without meaning, except for those with an eternal reward.

    I am sure that you can dismiss this comment as a religious fanatic's rant, but it is my guiding principle.

  8. Hi there,

    I attended a workshop in Toronto recently about this (what is my calling) and thought it was amazing; I highly recommend the speaker, Alex Baisley. He's giving another one the evening of January 18th (link to event on FB: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140801909308316, link to his website: http://www.bigdreamprogram.com/CallingWorkshop.html

    Best wishes,


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