Not too long ago, I did a mental scan of how far I had come in my life. It was sort of a delayed mid-life crisis event where I looked for some sort of evidence that my life experiences contained something of value; that my life meant something. I asked myself questions like, "What had I manifested in material wealth? Where did I fit in my community and society? Who were my friends? What in my life had meaning? and, What sort of stuff was I made of?”
The context for my check-in included (at least as relative to others) a dearth of money, the lack of a lofty position career-wise, and an insidious feeling of isolation. As I took stock of what I had "accomplished” in my life to date, I felt impoverished somehow. I thought, "Wow, look at my friends and relatives who stuck with the same job for years. They are comfortably situated within a standard of living that affords them peace, status and a sense of security. They’ve got their loved ones close by too.” Although their lifestyles felt a bit predictable and boring to me, there seemed to be all sorts of evidence that their path was "right.”
In contrast, the path that I had chosen was full of various experiments in a wide spectrum of careers. In my world, the way had been driven by either a need for something more challenging, deferring to a relationship, or a by a change in geography. I seemed to get bored easily and found myself in situations that, although they were sometimes exhilarating and always interesting, were often stressful. I was usually flying by the seat of my pants and living by my wits. As I tried on different hats, I sometimes prayed for formal training or a mentor to make the road easier and more mainstream. But then I blindly dived into (not thinking to test the water depth first) whatever new adventure that beckoned with all my mind and body, heart and soul. So my course in life unfolded, one step at a time.
There have definitely been themes in my experiences, such as work related bits and insights –
various certificates, a diploma and a parchment and the bullshitting ability to win at Balderdash, resourcefulness and a watchful eye, head-hunting and a downtown office on the 26th floor, waitressing and organization skills, creating a revolutionary problem solving model and not being able to navigate to New York City, filing paperwork and discovering the enchantment of the pen, repeatedly ramming my head on the proverbial glass ceiling and taking it on the chin for the team, bending over for the toxic boss and the view from 5,000 feet, photography and perspective, interviewing and exalting integrity, selling sex paraphernalia and losing the knapsack that it was all in, leadership and peon-ship, computers and efficiency, being an advisor and being screwed up beyond all recognition.
I had to figure out who I am and who I’m not. So I played with –
learning to communicate and repeatedly putting my foot in my mouth, using humour to lessen the sting and using humour to rise above, intelligence and will power, university and the mundane, being a type A personality and coming to love the gentle rhythm of the Island, sacrifice and selfishness, being blessed with an angelic Yorkie and being blessed with the legs to walk her, fighting for the underdog and yielding to the relentless system, losing myself in depression and finding myself in Source, diabetes and loss, tai chi and the Tao.
Some experiences were about people in my life. I learned about –
lovers and power, loss of innocence while holding on to vulnerability, one precious child and surrender, various homes and two husbands, being judged and found wanting, rejecting before I could be rejected, learning my place and finding my voice, clamoring for recognition and finding grace in humility, being brutalized and learning to forgive.
Otherwise some choices were just plain outside the box –
acting in theatre and running from politics, swimming with dolphins and working with sharks, watching a man overdose on smack and watching another man resuscitate him, circular breathing with a didgeridoo and flying in a Cessna into the Nahanee National Park, reading Tarot cards and being reborn at a First Nations Sundance and sweat lodge.
It’s been interesting.
These days I accept that my overall theme, perhaps even my purpose, in this lifetime has been to try as many diverse things as possible rather than to follow a more sensible track and go deeply into one choice. It’s odd that it wasn’t until I had lived for almost 55 years on this planet that I came to think of my circuitous career and eclectic life experiences as equally valuable as anyone else’s. Indeed, I finally see the detailed mosaic of my life as a celebration of inquisitiveness, an open heart, and courage. So my path is not only "right” for me, it’s perfect.
Helena Gree is a Writer, Life Skills & Spirituality Coach, Ritualist, and Health Management Facilitator.