I stand in an office on the 34th floor of a high rise in downtown Denver. I look out windows that frame an obstructed view of the front range. Pressing my face against the glass I feel the sun warm, imagine the air that invisibly touches everything. Beneath my feet the world hums, people look immeasurably small, cars snake through a labyrinth of streets that seem to randomly connect. I am a part of this plexus hovering like a disembodied spirit, unseen. Surreal. I have recently been incarnated into a new role, a ‘land assistant’ for an oil and gas company.
Get on the elevator, stand in awkward silence with others that seem to be bracing themselves for a day in a box. It is a monochromatic landscape despite the fuschia colored orchids in the lobby, the kind of environment that one wants to scream in or do something entirely inappropriate just to see if anyone has pulse enough to respond. Do other people have such thoughts? The spirit in me feels blindfolded and abducted, and the rebel looks for every opportunity to enter into the revolving door that leads to my other world. How did I land here?
I file leases into perfect numerical order, according to range and township. My mind adjusts to a new environment to work repetitive and numbing. The copy machine, a marvel of technological wonder creates one perfect duplicate after another that I staple and stack into manila folders. Time seems to move in slow motion, nine to five. Stacks of paper, each one a lesson in Latin look pale under fluorescent lighting. My mind tires, my body longs to move, I wrestle with boredom and tedium in equal measure. The more I wish I were anywhere else the more misery I create for myself. While I am here pondering my new existence, earthquakes shake the planet, people die in a swift moment without warning, pain and suffering erupts globally. Impermanence, it is the one certainty.
Admittedly my most recent employment has felt imposed not organic, foreign not familiar, contrary to my nature not nourishing. I have struggled to find meaning and purpose in this twist of fate. Every imaginable emotion has surged through my body, anger, frustration, relief, failure, immeasurable gratitude, and even despair. Was I ‘selling out’, giving up on the most passionate work of my life, was accepting this position a sign of resignation and defeat, or simply an act of self preservation? My mind in it’s ‘fight or flight mode’ was fatalistically preoccupied with trying to interpret my latest set of circumstances. Self inquiry. Who is creating this suffering, who feels defeated and valueless? EGO. I wake up, and all of the noise of my fretful chaotic mind dissolves. Simple awareness.
For the past three decades I have served the world through a livelihood that is consistent with who I am and what I value; serving humanity by awakening consciousness. My path has allowed me to express my innate skills and abilities and has nourished my heart and soul. I have never seen work as a ‘means to an end,’ as something one does simply to get from one day to the next. I think of work as vocation, a true calling. This calling comes from deep within our being, from a ‘knowing’ and longing that seeks to fulfill itself. My commitment to this inner knowing has been absolute, my faith and dedication unwavering. There has been no greater singular priority in my life than to honor that internal truth and to integrate it into my life.
‘Knowing’ has not led me to my current position, necessity has. Perhaps this is the real reason behind my rebellion, on some level I felt I had no other choice. After months of trying to find work I was more financially desperate than I have ever been. Normally I would consider having work when I needed it grace, but given the nature of the work it has felt more like penance. For years I have had the luxury of determining the choreography of my days, of choosing how I would spend my time and focus my energy. There was an organic and natural flow that was completely influenced by my own internal rhythm and directive. There was space for spontaneity, freedom and magic. Is there now?
Making peace with where I am has proven to be a greater challenge than I could have ever imagined. Embracing my situation has taken conscious effort, time, and a willingness to suspend my perception of how things should be. Apparently my work isn’t limited to specific environments, to spiritual communities, yoga studio’s, satsang audiences, and private students. Experience tells me that nothing in life is without purpose, value or meaning. I am where I am for a reason and rejecting ‘what is,’ only deepens the chasm between myself and the truth that is emerging. When I wake up, settle into the present, into my body, it’s enough, more than enough to be exactly where I am.
As soon as I let go of my judgement, my resistance and rebellion a beautiful thing happened… I was able to help one of my co-worker’s with his fear of flying, lend an open heart to someone who needed to cry, and offer a ‘listening presence’ to someone in need. I may have the opportunity to offer meditation in my workplace as part of a well being initiative. I get out of the way, I let go. I free fall into surrender, to the magnetic pull of the compass that lies at the center of my Soul. I let go of my critical mind, of my attachment, and I bow once again to the mystery that propels my life and keeps me ever on my toes.
Written: March 20, 2011