I love beginnings.
Not only the splendid turn of time as we start a new year, but the whole concept of “fresh start” and “do-overs.” Fortunately for me, as a teacher for almost thirty years, every semester was a new beginning—a fresh start, an opportunity to be better.
Even so, I spent the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in quiet contemplation of my life and my relationships—what’s working and what isn’t kind of thing. From that perspective, I’d select a few areas to focus on with goals for the New Year.
Not wanting to spoil the newness of the New Year, I’d do this little ceremony on December 31 to clear the decks of any negativity so I could “start fresh.”
Writing down every icky thing on my mind—whether it was a mistake I’d made, an unpleasant interaction, or whatever. When my list was complete, I’d close my eyes and mentally ask forgiveness from those I’ve wronged. I’d also ask for help in forgiving those who wronged me. I’d forgive myself for making mistakes, reminding me that everything I did was always with the information I had at the time. No one starts their day with a mission to make a mistake. Then, to release all that stuff, I’d go outside, light a white candle and burn the list.
I don’t do that anymore.
Now I clean up the mess as I make it with a little ritual I developed one day on a bridge. For the last several years, I’ve gone onto that bridge every single time to do Releasing & Receiving (described in the December 29 post by that title). The point is this: if I do the work as it shows up, there isn’t all this bagged angst to carry with me through the year. Instead of carrying that gunk around, I can tread lightly. Light is better.
But new beginnings aren’t always about clearing emotional clutter or correcting mistakes and habits. Sometimes they are about a honking huge transformation—like the “Marilyn Monroe to Sister Teresa” change I just heard about from a dear friend who phoned to wish me a Happy New Year and told me this wonderful story. Her daughter, who has lead a glamorous and lucrative life as a Vegas entertainer, has just made a dramatic life-changing decision. She’s leaving her glitzy life in the warm zone and moving to the bitter cold north so she can take care of an infant diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
For those of us wanting to make our own fresh starts—to find life purpose and meaning— here’s what I’ve learned so far since I declared my intention with this blog. Quite simply, all you have to do is “pick a lane.” (Thanks to Barbara for that expression).
Perhaps a little background is in order, because this isn’t my first time…
Spiritually speaking, I have been on my path since I was a ten-year-old Baptist reading Aldus Huxley and Oliver Wendell Holmes—over fifty years now. My Weltanschauung, world view, was shaped by traditional religion, metaphysical studies, astrology, Tarot, yoga and I Ching, and the fact that I have been guided all my life by some internal thing.
With that guidance, I never had to face an empty slate before. I simply was gently nudged here and there and was so happy I never had to know anything, that I could simply show up, pay attention, and respond to whatever felt good—like when I signed up for calculus because I had a knack for math, but decided it wasn’t fun anymore, so I bailed and became an English major instead.
With that internal guidance, over a period of forty years I have been an English teacher, professor, massage therapist, psychotherapist, self-empowerment workshop leader, dance and yoga teacher and … then it stopped. No more nudges to DO.
Not that I’ve been abandoned. Certainly not. The guidance never left me, it’s still available to remind me what I forgot when I’m in the grocery store, to choose a different route when something inconvenient lies ahead on the road I’d been on, to give me directions when I’m driving and can’t see signs through the fog, and to show me the empty parking space near the store entrance when it’s icy outside. For that kind of thing, we’re still solid.
But it has definitely has cut back on service in the “what shall I DO” department.
Sadly for me, “Life purpose” is the critical service area no longer offered, and that’s been true about seven years.
My initial response was, “Fine. I’ll be a tennis bum.” And I was. And I had so much fun!
Now I realize that even that was still guidance, because in that dead period before I chose to pick up my racket, I was faced for the first time with discovering “what I want.”
So naturally, I developed another ritual to make it more apparent. Throughout the day I would say, “I want to…” about everything I chose to do. “I want to eat breakfast.” “I want to brush my teeth.” I want to take a shower” “I want to get dressed” You get the idea—simply owning that I never do anything I don‘t want to do.
The result of declaring “I want to” before behaviors I chose to do must have helped to break up the scar tissue of my Choice Muscle, because in November 2010, I declared that “I want to write a few pages at least once a week.” And that was the birth of this blog, from a desire simply to see what it felt like to actually “be a writer”—by definition, one who writes regularly—as opposed to being one who has written, meaning that once upon a time, yeah, I did that thing.
So when I say that, at least for me, discovering life purpose begins with “pick a lane,” what I mean is that the manifesting rules have changed, and we literally can do whatever we want. All we have to do is choose. We can simply choose something and see what it feels like, see where it takes us. And the moment we do—as evidenced by the action we’ve taken—the universe steps in to help us make it happen.
As beginners, it doesn’t have to be a commitment for the rest of our life. In my case, filled with trepidation (“can I really DO that?”), I felt compelled to limit the experience (“yes, I can, for about a year, till December 21, 2012”). What I’ve experienced in the first two months is akin to “getting my chops” and “finding my stride,” and in the process, discovering what thrills me and what doesn’t.
Because the stuff flows without effort, because time stops when I’m writing, and because I really enjoy doing it, with all due humility, I’m going to assume there’s some kind of gift, “chops,” shtick, involved and that it’s a part of what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve found my stride, my rhythm, having learned that I’m most comfortable writing a few pages as opposed to a few paragraphs. Bottom line: writing will probably be involved.
Regarding discovering what do I really want?—and one cannot find their bliss until they’ve answered that question— I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want, and discrimination is the beginning of determining what it is I do want.
I now know with certainty that I have no interest in all that dark side of “what’s gonna happen in 2011-2012” kind of thing, because it conflicts with the cornerstone of my belief system which, quite simply, is that there really are only two choices in life: Love and Fear, and I chose Love a lifetime ago. In computer language, they say “garbage in, garbage out.” So why would I want to fill my head with fear thoughts? It’s so much better, at least for me, to remain conscious about what’s going on around me, to quietly notice where the snake lies, but to simply walk around it.
Therefore, despite the fact that this blog began with that sort of thing, it ended quickly.
What feels good so far is what I’m doing now: writing about my personal journey to find my life purpose, my quest to discover my single note to add to the great symphony going on around me. That part of the journey is unfolding before me, and is the most exciting spiritual, self-discovery experience I’ve had since I quit smoking, which perhaps I’ll share next time.
Till then, please be kind to everyone you meet, because we’re all just “bozos on the bus”* (*a nod to Ram Das).
[This is a re-post of an article I wrote many years ago, when people were fearful of 2012. (You’ll have to do research if you’re too young to know what 2012 was about.) It still works for me.]