Three of my friends quit their jobs last week. A fourth intended to quit on Friday, but she decided to do a bit more planning for her transition. Do I want to join them? Yes and no. Not yet. I am learning new skills, writing job proposals, talking to people about jobs. My time will come, and in the meantime my friends inspire me and make me wonder about this sea change in all of our lives.
We are five of us women, in our forties and fifties. I think of all of us healers in our own ways. Maybe, just maybe, we are a few of those women the Dalai Lama spoke of when he said “The world will be saved by the Western woman.” It is not his words that motivate us, and none of us has a lot of money; in fact we are scraping by or in debt. But we know we have to do something different in work and in life, something that comes from our hearts and that begins to set us on a gentler and more life-affirming course, beyond the consumerism and the reductionism in our healthcare system (we are all involved in social work, healthcare, or psychotherapy).
Why do I say we are healers, particularly since that word is not usually associated with jobs in our time? Because I feel that is our essence. My friends are all deeply spiritual, and two are natural counselors whose intuition is keen enough that they sense the larger issues of a person’s life or circumstances. They are able to convey their awareness and help others find their own deeper motivation. Another friend, a teacher turning psychotherapist, is deeply intelligent cognitively and emotionally: her clear awareness and compassion a gift to those who work with her. One is a musician who works with people with disabilities. She fell recently and experienced a severe concussion from which she healed through brain integration therapy, and she is learning this modality herself, exhibiting a natural ability for using acupressure and energy to help others with head injuries, learning disorders, and physical/emotional integration struggles.
Me? I am drawn to write and educate, to support new models of health and mental health care. To help people rediscover the wisdom of their bodies through movement, mindfulness, and inner exploration. To communicate new ways of being to our society, and to be part of a new sustainable economy.
When I get discouraged, or feel like I will forever be underemployed, I think of my friends, of these wise and gifted Western women. Of their insight won from struggle, from continually listening to their hearts, from living in a great deal of uncertainty while remaining committed to meaningful work and their own authenticity. We cannot ignore the awareness of a need in our society to change direction and live more gently on the earth, and these friends help me remember that truth.
There is something greater at work than our getting and spending, then our procurement of jobs with money and benefits, than our struggles with alienation or of feeling we do not fit. I think of wise native people who remain clear in their awareness of spirit and nature, who consult the wisdom of the elders and honor the sacredness of earth, humanity, animals, and plants. As we five women step forward we carry a trust in the necessity of doing our work, of making a stand for humanity’s richness and creativity as well as its inseparability from the earth we live on.