I haven’t been blogging much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying. Each time over the last few weeks that I’ve started to write a post—something about yoga, or teaching, or meditation, or writing a novel—I give up after a few paragraphs. Everything I’ve been trying to say sounds too preachy, not quite right. It wasn’t until today that I realized the problem with all my drafts is that they’re covering up the real issue I want to write about and work through.
I haven’t been totally honest with myself about how much the loss of my job in February affected me. Don’t get me wrong—I strongly believe I’m in a good place now, and I’m finally focusing on my writing in a significant way. (I’m on the second draft of my novel! Hooray!) I no longer wake up in the morning and head to work with knots in my stomach about what tension the day might hold. And I have faith that positive things will come from this transition in my life.
Still, it hurts that I was let go. I wasn’t working for some big corporation, where I might expect a level of soullessness for the sake of profit margins and ego. I was working at a place with a spiritual mission, and I thought I was among friends. Being targeted and told to leave because I had a reasonable concern was harsh and violent. I know now that there were probably a lot of negative things being said about me behind my back that I wasn’t aware of, even though I tried so hard to communicate face to face. I acted with integrity and trust and kindness, and the response was darkness, hostility, dishonesty. Those are actions from which I won’t heal easily.
I still believe in kindness, though, in compassion, in peace. In fact, I believe in them now more than ever. I know that when a person tries to hurt someone else, it’s because he or she is already hurting. Aggression often comes from fear. And all of us have to make the choice about whether we let fear be our guide, or faith. Choosing faith and love showed me I’ll never get the short end of the stick. What will always remain, in the face of whatever consequences, is my integrity and my dignity. Nothing is more important than that.
In the past months, as I work on my novel and take on small side projects that help nourish me, I’m working through the next big phase of my life. I’m practicing patience and mindfulness, surrender instead of the need to control. I’m paying particular attention to the role of women in our culture, and thinking about what I can do to support and nurture a sisterhood that we so desperately need. As I found in my last environment, women still have a lot of sexism to overcome. For a long time, as a teacher, I talked about these issues in my classes. We discussed the role of mothers, the expectations placed on men and women in the household, the reason to read women writers, the need for equality. But until recently, I wasn’t fully cognizant of the struggles women face in the workplace and even in liberal-minded religious institutions. I knew about the issues, of course, but I didn’t feel it in my bones. Now I do, and it was an important wake-up call. As the next stage for me unfolds, I know that I want to commit to women’s equality in a meaningful way.
Of course, my story is little in comparison to some of the darkness we read about in history and see in the news everyday. There are plenty of people who direct their energy downward, who choose weakness and fear and destruction instead of compassion and love. But there are also people who consistently do inspiring and positive things: people who speak up about injustice, who teach, who learn, create, foster discussion and cultivate empathy. The spiritual work I did at my last job affirms that.
There are loads of good people in the world doing positive and meaningful things, creating beauty, however small. I am trying to consistently be one of them.
Image: “Reflection of Sunlight” by Rajiv Ashrafi via Flickr Creative Commons.