I am in financial limbo at the moment, waiting to find out if the forms I have now sent in twice have made it to the office handling the retirement cash-out offer from my former employer. The notice of this offer came as an answer to prayers, literally the day after I prayed them, when I had a fear meltdown over what I will live off, financially, once my current savings are gone. I have been living off savings, including 401(k) funds, for four years now.
It seems as if, underneath the fear of not getting this latest pot of cash, there is a sense that I have somehow screwed it all up, by not following the instructions to the letter and instead using the Priority Mail envelope; by telling people about my good fortune – too soon, or at all (the spiritual teaching to not tell people about “mystical” experiences because they lose their power); or maybe that I am not doing what I am “supposed” to do on the writing front – I should have published more by now, I should have written more by now, I should have finished my book outline by now, I should be more disciplined, I should, I should, I should.
Even worse than the fear of not knowing how I will pay rent and bills and buy groceries and take people to dinner and buy nice clothes and donate to charities and support myself as the writer I know I am, is this dread that I am screwing up my life. That there is a right way and I’m not doing it. A right way, that is, according to someone who is not me.
It doesn’t help that I am, indeed, screwing everything up according to many, even people I love and who love me. I have spent nearly my entire 401(k) in the last few years. I have also been hugely unsuccessful in making much income. And worse, I did this consciously and by choice. I haven’t even tried to find a job, or more clients, and I’ve even put aside the healing business that I thought was beginning to grow. I’ve invested a big chunk of my savings in a business that is not likely to pay me back anytime soon, if ever. I’ve changed livelihood horses so many times in the past couple of years that even I can barely keep track of which one I’m riding, although the pull to do this – put words on paper – is unmistakable. It is the only activity that draws me to it over and over and has for a long time, when I stop to look at the years of journals and blogs and even my career in communication.
And now I am relying on a pension buy-out to fund my next few years while I write, and perhaps make a living at this writing, yet it is up in the air because the firm handling the buyout has not received the paperwork that I have mailed, twice. Thus the panic.
So, is it really true that I “should” have done things differently, “should” be doing something differently? Is it really true that I should be anywhere other than here, as I am, right now? Goddess, such violence we inflict on ourselves with our judgments and shoulds. Would the world really be a better place if I had found another corporate communications job, stressed my body even more than it was, foregone the trips to India, not travelled my interior self, healing the broken parts I found there? Would the world really be a better place because I still had money left in my retirement account? Who decides this stuff??? Who the fuck is qualified to tell me I have screwed up?
The truth is, I’m the only one qualified to beat myself up about all this. The even greater truth is, I cannot imagine doing anything differently. I would not trade the trips to India, the freedom to spend time alone in my apartment, or at my family cabin, the introspection and healing work that these years have allowed. In a very real way, from the inside of my life, there seems to have been little choice in the matter of how to live. The steps I have taken and continue to take reveal themselves when I am just about on top of them. And even though I can’t see them in advance, they are often unmistakeable when I do see them. There is a voice, of sorts, that can speak pretty damned loudly about which way I must go in any given situation, and becomes louder and clearer the more I listen to it. Back to the “S” word – soul, or whatever other name anyone wants to give her.
I don’t really like this: it’s nerve-wracking. It seems as if it would be so much easier to know the future, know how I will be taken care of, know that I am following the voice correctly. Of course, there is no such knowledge. Security is a myth, even the future itself only exists in our heads. Even when I have been certain about the future, everything changed in short order anyway.
A better question, then – exactly what IS true? What is certain? It is true that I do not know how I will support myself, or even if I will support myself in the very near future. It is true that I feel drawn to keep writing and put as much energy as I have into this. It is true that I have always been OK, supported, one way or another, whether it was in the manner I would choose or not. It is true that in this moment, sitting here in my beautiful, warm apartment with food in the kitchen, comfortable bed, plenty of clothing, bills paid and up to date, I have everything I need and even want, right now.
The silence rings loudly in my ears as I write this, and stillness surrounds me, shutting out the noise from the street. Breath moves in and out of this human body. There is so little I know for sure, that I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. Only this – I am here as this being, this presence, following my own voice and my own path because I cannot bear, in a beloved teacher’s words, “the rabid dissatisfaction of a life lived less than authentically.”