Work and Money Conclusion: “School”-Free Life is Good


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.”

6 thoughts on “Work and Money Conclusion: “School”-Free Life is Good

  1. DotDotDot says:

    Hey, this is awesome. I really appreciate your insightfulness. After one of your May posts, I posited similarly…. where does a person get the idea that things could have been any differently? When we become susceptible to entering a school environment, just what the heck is that “we” and why was it yearning for something more, something it believed it couldn’t get from it’s regular environment?

    I went salmon fishing in Alaska last July-August. Sometimes, I would pull out a fish that already had a hook sticking out of its head and/or one, or more, chunks taken out of it from previous encounters with anglers downstream. These fish weren’t even hungry. They were fighting the raging current by the hundreds of thousands so they could get back to their place of birth and spawn…. all along the way, thousands and thousands of anglers along several rivers’ banks trying, over and over, without mercy, to snag and make a nice meal of them.

    In fact, my freezer still holds 60lbs of their filets.

    Someone might have warned those fish ahead of time but, as we can see from our exalted perches, it would have made little difference. Maybe one of millions would have somehow miraculously interpreted the meaning of the warning but where would it go? What would it do? You see, it was only warned of the miles of anglers. It was never told about the salmon sharks following closely behind, or the bears, or that another million or so fish were making the trek shortly after… so many opportunities, so many ways to fail or die.

    These schools still have their psychopaths and self-pitiers… a microcosm of life, in general… yet they really do offer another opportunity. Because, as it’s been said, “the work is in the hearts of women and men… if they can find it.”

  2. Hi DotDotDot – Thanks for this lovely post.

    “School” often trots out the salmon swimming upstream metaphor – we evolved souls, fighting the current, only a few will survive, blah, blah, blah. It’s interesting to look back on its use and note that “school” neglected to mention its internal anglers and salmon sharks and bears … student’s have to recognize the predators on their own, I guess, and that’s the true test.

    Enjoy that fillet and I raise a glass to your “situation”-free life.

  3. Not someone says:

    Gentle Soul, I love your latest series of posts! Bravo and thank you.

  4. Big thanks, Not Someone! Happy holidays!

  5. Johanna says:

    I thought your readers might be interested in this notice below. The ICSA is the International Cultic Studies Association, an old (as these things go) and very well respected organization.

    “ICSA will soon begin two-hour meetings in the Boston area. The meetings will take place at MeadowHaven, a residential facility for former group members that is located about 25 miles south of Boston. The meetings will be directed by MeadowHaven’s founders, Robert Pardon and Judy Pardon. The meetings will be educational yet supportive. The plan is to explore a particular topic, e.g., resolving trauma, recovering from an aberrational Christian group, for 8 meetings, and then to explore another topic. Former members of any high-control or cultic group are welcome. Through these meetings, participants can acquire conceptual tools to help them understand troubling issues, get to know others wrestling with similar problems, improve communication skills, and facilitate healing. An introductory meeting will take place at MeadowHaven (directions)* on January 26, 2013 (Saturday) from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. At this meeting, participants can discuss possible topic areas that the first series of meetings can cover and decide on dates and times for subsequent meetings.

    Although this first group is designed for former group members, ICSA also hopes to provide supportive groups for family members in the Boston area, if there is sufficient demand. If you are interested in attending the former member group or in starting a family group, please e-mail ICSA at

    Please tell others who might be interested in these meetings, especially if you think they are not on our mailing list.

    *URL for directions:

  6. Hi Johanna, Thank you for this info. I have been meaning to learn more about ICSA, too. I may even check out a meeting to find out more. GSR

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