Opening to Impermanence

night-of-joy-1Just over a year ago I told the place I worked that I was no longer engaged in my role. It was true. My interests had shifted and even though the structure and way I could work was quite free, I still felt limited. The work was no longer in line with what I wanted to do (even if I didn’t quite know what that was).

I had prepared for a while to have this conversation and fear was rearing up as the words “I’m no longer engaged in this work and I’d love it if you could help me find another role,” came out of my mouth. I still said the words.

After the conversation, which was received extremely well, I went to my office shaking and called a close friend and said “I just had a conversation with my boss that goes against pretty much everything I was ever taught”.

I’ve always sought security through work. I’ve had an income since I was about fifteen years old. Even before that, I’d be scheming up businesses and ways to make money. I’ve been oriented towards that way of thinking. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. There’s also nothing right about it. It’s neutral.

I know there are lots of people who work difficult jobs in many different ways and I am in no way denying their truth.

For me, I needed something else.

And so, this year, my job and I broke up. We parted ways after eleven years.

This was met with some deep trauma responses which fascinated me. I learned that something I wanted could also trigger trauma. It didn’t logically make sense. Shouldn’t something I want feel good? Turns out, it could feel traumatic for a period and then, with help, the trauma passed and healed.

In the weeks after I resisted the urge and thoughts to immediately jump into another job. Every time someone asked me what I was going to do I said, “I’m taking time and I don’t want to figure anything out – I’m going to allow it to unfold”.  I’m going to trust in the unfolding.

I’ve wanted time for a long time and here was this huge gift. I waited, and those impulses also passed in intensity and only flare up quietly from time to time.

For the past several months I’ve been moving in and out of feeling stressed about where to be. Where to live?

I start to calculate. Without an income for the first time in over twenty years I start to see ways to minimize. To downsize. I do try to figure it all out. I’ve never not had an income and that change feels significant.

I’ve always been good with money and with living within my means. I was brought up to know how to do that and it has served me well.

I automatically default to that way of thinking and as I spin out scenarios, the path becomes more and more narrow as I feel as though I have no choice but to give up my apartment, to move to somewhere that costs less or that I’ll have to live with other people. It feels out of my control and like I have no other choice.

I think about moving home to be closer to my family, which would be lovely, and then worry that there’s not a life there for me anymore.

I try to figure out where I want to live. Where I want to be. I start to play out a scenario and quickly it becomes fearful. I start to panic about everything I’ll lose. Everything that I won’t be near any more. Then I don’t want to leave here. I look at the stuff I’ve collected and how much I love my apartment. I start to freak out about what’s next and start to anticipate all the other changes that obviously won’t work out well. Everything starts to trap me and stick me in place.

Brief thoughts float up about finding another “job” just to maintain what I already have. They are quickly turned over though because that is not what I want right now.

I look at real-estate in places I don’t want to live just because I could technically afford it and could maybe then make money from renting it out. Strained because I don’t want to be in those places – or do I? Where do I want to be?

I let myself have fantasies about putting everything into storage and just traveling. Somehow becoming weightless and free. I then start to worry about the logistics of how that will work. My brain starts to believe that once things are in storage it’s somehow impossible to get them back out. Or if I’m going to do that then why not just get rid of everything? Where would my plants go?

I jump to extremes. Absolutes. I try to divine how everything will be.

It takes a toll and my stress and more manic energy escalates, trying to take control of the future and keeps me stuck in that place of stress.

These are not difficult problems to have on the surface, it happens to be what I’m working with right now. The commitment to accepting change and resisting falling back in to an old story that served me well and now no longer suits me.

There has got to be another way.

I noticed that I kept telling myself there’s nothing to figure out. I realized I was thinking a lot about stories I had written in the past about lack of abundance and change.

Then something hit me:

I’m coming at this decision and question from a place of lack and not a place of abundance. Seeing only lack is so engrained in me, I couldn’t even see it was calling the shots. To counteract the energy that was taking over, I kept reminding myself that change is always additive. Change isn’t about either/or, it’s about and/and. It’s not absolute. It’s about shifting the perspective from one of lack to one of abundance. I didn’t know what was next when deciding to leave work and that has turned out well. This will too.

How do I shift the story?

Within seconds, I realized that the one thing I want to change about how I live is to start to live with other people again. That is what I want and need. I always love traveling and staying with friends and family. When I return to my place, even though I love it, I’m often depressed and lonely.

For a long time, I didn’t want to live with anyone. I knew how to hide and isolate. I needed the space to heal and to do whatever I needed to do. I’ve enjoyed it very much.

That has now shifted and, with the shift, I no longer want to remain hidden away on my own.

Instead of coming at the question of where to be from a place of lacking an income, I came at it from a place of what will bring me more health and wellbeing? A place of abundance.

Once I found that place of abundance, I no longer felt stressed or constricted about the decisions. I no longer needed to figure anything out.

Once I felt abundance, more continued to open as I realized that in my thought patterns, I’m constantly looking for permanence. I keep trying to make decisions that are absolutely defined or will last forever and it doesn’t work. I seem to believe that whatever decision I make now will be what the rest of my life looks like – with no other changes ever. I keep believing that there’s some sort of security in permanence when there’s not. It doesn’t even make me feel good – it creates more stress.

I seem to have a belief that permanence exists. That is a belief that I need to let go of. Once it’s gone, there is so much more ability to move freely. Temporarily. To see everything as temporary in a way that is filling and not fearful. Temporary doesn’t need to mean loss or lack. It does mean change. I want to view the temporary nature of life through the lens of abundance. How exciting and uplifting it can be. To understand that the decision I make right now doesn’t need to be what governs the entire rest of my life. I can change and try something and then change and try again. I can expand and contract. I can grow without limits.

Without deciding what I’m going to do or how or where I’m going to live or be next, I’ve decided I want to live with others. I want to be in community more fully.

I can’t do that in this place and so, I’ve decided to leave this place that I love so much – this place that has served me well for so many years.

I’ve decided to leave this place – and not because I know where I’m going to move to or what’s next.

The decision feels full and clear. No matter what other chatter or fear arises as I move through the impending changes that will now come based on this decision, I know I can now listen to what comes from a place of abundance and not a place of lack. That shift allows me to trust more and to simultaneously be open to and help facilitate whatever step is next.