Moving into a little more light

MaelstromI’ve been living in the midst of a maelstrom (a powerful circular current, usually the result of conflicting tides) for the past number of days.  The confluence of a number of things has left me with more than the usual confusion and uncertainty in my life.  Had these occurred one at a time I’m guessing I could have sorted things out more readily but surprise of surprises I don’t get to control when things happen – or what happens – and so it’s been rather an emotional pummeling for the past few days.  Let me go back about a week.

I started last week with great intentions to get a lot of work done on the theories course I’ve agreed to teach in the fall.  As the development of the resistancecourse unfolded I was aware of huge amounts of resistance to just getting the job done … and this is something that usually I don’t have to deal with.  So, me being me, I stopped to give it a lot of thought. What was really going on here?  Why was I feeling so incredibly stressed?  I was feeling so rested for a while and now I’m back to feeling exhausted.  What’s going on here???  It took several days, lots of good conversations with friends, some meditation, and more than a few drams of fine whiskey to figure it out, but I think I’m onto something really important for me.

I’d always told myself that the reason I’d moved away from the dreams of my youth and had the career that I had was because I had to earn enough money to support myself and three kids and I had to have enough financial stability to not have to worry from month to month whether I’d be able to cover the mortgage, utilities, food, dance lessons, piano lessons, baseball leagues, and on and on.  That meant that often in my working career I went through periods where I wasn’t at all happy about my work but had to just stick with it because there was security and, in the end, a fine pension.  Stick with it I did.  Until the end of last October when I entered retirement.  Ah – free at last.

Some months ago in the posting Keynote Tomorrow:  Will It Be My Last,  I wrote that “I have spent far too many years in environments that insisted that I take something complex and reduce it to two or three bullet points“.  I decided then that I’d make that one of the filters through which I’d make decisions about what to do with my time; for me to do whatever the “it” is I need to know that the complexity of the issue(s) at hand won’t be reduced to triviata.  I’ve been trying to work with that as a guideline and it’s been quite a helpful one.

I’ve now – through days of struggle – penetrated to a new insight.  I spent all of those years working at things that weren’t necessarily enabling me to either follow my passions or use my creativity because I thought I had to … financially.  Part of what I was investing in through all of those years was coming to this place of retirement where I would have sufficient income to not have to – as they say – make any “deals with the devil”.  Little by little, through the reflective exercise of writing this blog, I’ve been figuring out what I really BrianSwimme2do want to be focusing on.   I need to know that whatever it is I’m doing is something that has the potential to bring me/us a little bit closer to the kind of world we should – in my opinion – be striving to live in.  At the beginning of the weekend, I attended an evening lecture  – The Way of the Universe: Wisdom for the Ecozoic Era -with Brian Swimme.  He’s a Ph.D. in gravitational dynamics and speaks about the role of humanity in the unfolding story of the Earth and the cosmos.   Whatever I do needs to reinforce some of what he was talking about; the sense of connectedness with the earth and each other, the sense of us all being a part of an enormous universe that’s expanding and unfolding.

Here’s the long and the short of it.  I do not want to work for money alone and it feels like that’s the only reason (most significant reason?) that I’m prepping this course.  The question I’m going to have to start asking myself when I’m asked to take something on is:  “Will this provide me with an opportunity to make a difference?”  If it does, great.  If not, well … I have to separate money-work from heart-work and remember that at this point in my life working just for the money isn’t where my time should be devoted.  I’ll keep you informed about this unfolds with the theory course; with some luck I won’t be teaching it after all and I won’t have burned any bridges.  We’ll see.

Well, that’s a part of what’s going on.  Of course there’s always the personal/family issues that I have to deal with and they definitely continue to be a challenge.  Just when I think I’m figuring things out I’m always surprised by some new scenario that seems to have come out of nowhere.  This part of my life, as well, needs to revolve around a sense of oneness and care for each other as the incredible, sensitive, wonderful human beings that we are.  I know that when I let myself be buffeted by other agendas I’m all too often left bewildered … and sometimes/often hurt.  No intention (I hope) to this happening; nonetheless I have to start figuring out how to protect myself from the personal dramas that drain my energy, throw me off-track in who I want to be and what I’m trying to accomplish.

It’s July 2nd.  In two more days it will be July 4th – one full year since I began blogging.  I’m going to be launching a website this year on July 4th.  Imagine that!  I’ll tell you more about it, and how to find the website, in my next posting.

flagsTo everyone who’s just celebrated Canada Day (July 1st) or Independence Day (July 4th):  How incredibly lucky we are to live in countries where freedom prevails, where governments change without bloodshed, and where we are free to think about and talk about and write about the way we see the world.  Democracy the way we live it may not be perfect, but I for one am truly grateful to be Canadian and live at this very interesting time.

Before I get on with my day, I want to thank a few people in my life who are always there to help me through times of darkness and confusion.  Without dear friends (Barb, BJ, Esther, Linda, Laurie) and family (Mom, Motti, Molly) the last few days would have been that much harder.  In their honour I leave you all with this wonderful video; take a few minutes to watch it … it’s truly inspiring.


10 responses to “Moving into a little more light

  1. I’ve so enjoyed your blog, Sylvia, and I look forward to whatever you’re cooking up next!

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Thanks so much Rita. I’ve been kind of silent for the last week or so and I apologize for not responding sooner. I always enjoy Goldivas as well. What an amazing “space” this is.

  2. Jeannie in PA

    I made a decision this week too. I applied to enter art school. I showed them my portfolio and they will probably allow me(it is not certain yet) into an upper level drawing course (anatomy). I feel so good about this decision. There is no money in it. I have no desire to go for another career. I don’t want to sell my work. I just want to learn to draw better.

    Like you I was a single mother while teaching. I truly had little juice left with which to pursue my own passions. But now I have time. I am grateful to be so healthy, to be rich enough that I can do something so frivolous and expensive just for the joy of it.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Bravo Jeannie, that’s amazing! I absolutely get it; you want to draw because of the joy of drawing. I hope one day to see the wonderful things you’ll create. Isn’t it amazing to finally have time for all of this?

  3. Sharon Griffin

    I read this blog with much interest (and I so enjoyed the video – especially hearing in the background as I was listening, my husband singing along with his “version” of Stand By Me as I listened…)

    Reading these words, I said to myself – she’s there – she’s got it.

    “I do not want to work for money alone and it feels like that’s the only reason (most significant reason?) that I’m prepping this course. The question I’m going to have to start asking myself when I’m asked to take something on is: “Will this provide me with an opportunity to make a difference?” If it does, great. If not, well … I have to separate money-work from heart-work and remember that at this point in my life working just for the money isn’t where my time should be devoted. ”

    Welcome to the joy of retirement.


    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Thanks Sharon. Some days I do feel like I’m getting it but there are lots of days when I’m still feeling quite rudderless. In the end I do have to prepare the course so I’m doing it and see it as a bit of penance (strange concept for a nice Jewish girl?) for having done my own doctoral research without understanding the theoretical perspective I had until two dear friends sent me scurrying off to learn about somebody called Bronfenbrenner. Guess this is payback time. Learning lots though.

  4. This entry hits a nerve!! It takes courage to listen to the resistance, to be open to what it’s telling you. From all the articles on retirement out there, none of them discuss these inner seismic shifts. Thank you.

    It also reminds me of the quote from Carlos Castenedos: “Any path is only a path and there is no affront to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is where your heart tells you…Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question…Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.”

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      I’m responding from an island on Jack’s Lake sitting looking at the water and listening to loons. I’ve come here for a few days to rekindle some of the energy that’s drained away in the past week working through some life struggles. Your words, thoughts, and energies are much welcomed. How fabulous to be a part of this community.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      I haven’t thought of Castenedos for a long time; thanks for reminding me of the wisdom in his writing. I think I’ll use that question as a mantra …. “Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.” Thank you.

  5. I am excited to see where your decisions will take you. The one thing retirement should do is remove finances from the “what do I need to do next” scenario. While I know that when I retire I won’t have money to waste, neither will I (I hope and plan!) have to watch pennies. That, in and of itself, should be liberating. Other things are less controllable–I’m hoping my kids, by that time, will be less dependent on Mom for financial assistance. But asking myself why I’m taking whatever steps I’m taking and whether the world (THE world or MY world) will be better for it, is something I’m looking forward to. How nice for you to have that opportunity right now.

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