Thanksgiving, 2012, kicked off the holiday season recently, and it inspired me to tell you, Dear Readers, a few things for which I am grateful:
- After I left school in August of 2011, I stopped my insane school-sponsored job search. With real help from a vocational counselor, I relaxed and clarified who I was, why I dismissed my personal strengths, and what type of work environments would be best for me. I now work at a Harvard-affiliated facility that is tops in my chosen field. My days are meaningful and purposeful; my fear of being unemployable dropped away, along with my lifelong occupational restlessness. Today I live internally driven days, with focus and my aim. I no longer squander my days away, wishing to somewhere else, doing something else. The work I do requires that I be in the moment.
- As a second job I provide music therapy to developmentally-impaired adults. Ironically, every Thursday night, at 6:30 — when I would have been in “class” — I drive to Billerica to work with a father and son. The son wrestles with many cognitive challenges, including limited language skills; he reminds me weekly what gratitude is, how to be in the moment, and how to connect with the essence inside another. There are no classes, lectures, or orchestrated “discussions”; there are no hierarchies, unreasonable demands, or proliferated deceptions. There are no surprise projects, or parties, thrown in out of the blue to sweep aside my insignificant, inconsequential life. Simply the presence of these two souls — loving father and son — our respect for each other and our mutual love of, and connection through, music has taught me more in the last year about higher vibrations, gratitude and freedom than anything taught by “school”.
- That said, I am grateful to “school” for what I did learn there. I would never have encountered the ideas Gurdjieff unearthed without it — granted, I had to leave “school” to learn that Gurdjieff existed. I probably wouldn’t have read Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s fairy tales, either, or a slew of other classics: Emerson, Tolstoy, Twain, etc. But the most enduring and life-altering lesson came from “school” pushing me into a corner and forcing me to ask myself this question — should I continue living the school way, or do I follow my internal compass? Only then did I comprehend the lesson we all learned from The Wizard of Oz — the answers I had been seeking externally lived within me all along. “School” is simply a group of men and women hiding behind a curtain and presenting a fallacy as truth. When I stopped seeing those men and women as superior and enlightened and instead raised the curtain on a group of fallible humans, caught in a web of deception — at that moment — I walked into that illusive state of “ready”.
Over the past year, my husband and I have been joking that “school’s” real aim is to make life suck enough for its students that they wake up and say, “Wow, this is really fucked. If I’m going to ruin my life, I’d rather do so on my own terms, thanks.” We often hypothesize that Robert secretly cheers on the heretics, congratulating us for graduating, while in the hallowed halls he condemns us as “disgruntled ex-students.”
As one of the “disgruntled ex-students,” I have come to see the “school” experience as a necessary detour on my meandering yellow brick road. That path led me in, through, and out of the life I never wanted. It clarified the life I dreamed of, imagined and ached for. It was exactly what I needed to learn how to follow my inner compass to my yellow-brick road, as a woman who has become “ready” to live the life I am meant to live, and to be the woman I am meant to be.
My father has been gone four years now; today, given the experience of losing him, and having had joined and left a cult, I finally get his parting gift — “People do things when they are ready.”