Train tracks straight ahead
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Stay Calm and Carry On

I feel like a record with a skip in it. At the end of last year, I made a plan to write for a year. If by that time I didn’t gain some noticeable traction, i.e., start making some money at it, I’d need to find a job. But what job? I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like I’ve given up on writing before I’ve used the year I promised myself. I can’t seem to believe it could really be my path, even though it’s the path I’m already on.

One idea I’ve been mulling is becoming a hospice chaplain. I thought it could be profound to work spiritually with people who are dying. I looked into volunteering with a local hospice. A message on their website stopped me, though. “Due to the profound effects of grief, we ask you to wait at least one year after having experienced a loss before becoming a patient volunteer. We have found, based on over 35 years of experience that it takes that long to live with one’s own grief before truly being able to help others in similar situations.”

Not me! I’m fine. If I can’t volunteer, how am I going to find out if this is the job for me? After reckoning with my disappointment, however, I realized that their message suggested that I’m not the first person after losing someone to want to spend time with dying people. It never occurred to me that my interest might be related to the recent loss of my brother. Now what?

I resumed squirming about what job I might want to look for come January. I met a friend from my old law firm for lunch who I hadn’t seen in a few years. She knew about my difficult relationship with my brother and understood the ways I might be struggling with his death. With her I cried. These moments over three months after his passing surprise me. I go about my life thinking I’m fine, and then, suddenly, I’m with the right person and the tears come unbidden. Perhaps those hospice people were right.

I also shared with her my fears about my future. She gave me the advice I’d give anyone else in my situation, “Stop worrying. The right opportunity will be there when it’s time.”

The problem with this advice is that while I believe it for other people, and have experienced it in my own life, it always feels a little like when someone tries to comfort me by telling me my loved one is in heaven. Perhaps, but it seems more like something you say to make someone feel better. Who really knows what happens after we die? And who really knows if the right opportunity will be there?

But then she said something that struck the same chord as the message from the hospice, “now is not the time to be making big decisions. You’re still grieving. Stay your course.”

I continued to worry, though and complained during prayer. Jesus responded to my moaning with, “You know exactly what to do. You decided at the end of last year to write a blog and edit chapters of your book as stand alone pieces to submit to magazines. You planned to find a writing coach/editor. You’ve started the blog, but done little toward your other goals. You have five months left. Buckle down and finish the tasks you already committed to before you add new ones.”

I hesitated to write this post given how repetitive it seems of my post last week, Mindfulness May Mean Waiting When I Don’t Know the Answer. The story’s a bit different and Jesus was more “tough love” this week, but the gist is the same. I’d like to think the message sunk in, except that later in the week I had to remind myself of it yet again when I tried to add entirely new writing projects that took me off track.

I realized, however, that this need to learn lessons over and over is why I decided to start this blog. Because the journey to loving myself is messy and never linear. It’s often two steps forward, one back, then another back, then three forward. I don’t often see this demonstrated in the stories I read.

So I’m back to focusing on my goals and trying to put blinders on to the myriad of distractions that constantly threaten to pull me off track again. I’m going to finish the tasks I’ve set for myself and rest in my faith that future decisions will become clear when I need to make them. Sure enough, since making this decision, again, I’ve pumped out a number of rough drafts of blog posts and the train is running.

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1 Comment

  1. Dave says:

    So very true.

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