Waking Up is Hard to Do

Funny what intensive meditation will do to you.

In my experience, it’s never what you expect. Most of the influence on your life is subtle and hard to read – maybe you’re a little more patient, a little quicker to laugh, a bit more generous. I haven’t had a lot of big revelations that I can attribute to the causality of sitting.

But I got one this time! And I didn’t necessarily want it.

Not long into my intensive meditation course in April, and just minutes after an hour long sit, I went up to my office, logged into my work desktop, and heard, crisp and clear inside my head,

“girl, you cannot keep doing this.”

Yep, I have to leave my job. I don’t have to do it now; I don’t have to do it before I find a new one; there is no great urgency to it, and the admission has made every day a little more bearable, but that doesn’t mean I’m talking myself out of it. I have to leave.

I’ve spent the last 7 or so years justifying my job (not that anyone has asked for that, but the ego do take a bite out of honesty), as such:

  • I work for a nonprofit
  • my work doesn’t do any discernible harm
  • I am improving things for some people, if in an indirect way
  • I’ve learned some stuff
  • the pay is fine
  • I’m mostly respected and appreciated
  • I don’t take my work home
  • the benefits, particularly the PTO, are generous
  • as a result, I can do good (questionable term) in my free time

Many of you are probably looking at this list and thinking this is a pretty low bar. Some of you may think this is pretty sweet, and hardly worthy of complaint. I can take either perspective, but as someone who wants to do good (ugh), to have some kind of positive impact (meh), to increase the net amount of love and reduce the net amount of suffering in the world (that’s it), I have to open my eyes to not only the opportunities missed by spending my time at this essentially neutral job, but the fact that I am suffering from boredom and the knowledge that I do actually have skills and talents that could be applied in a manner that could actually reduce suffering, but I’m afraid to put myself out there.

Thus, this phase of this journey begins: the resume I haven’t looked at in 8 years (and can’t even find), the blahdom of job hunts, the agony of interviews. I am fortunate in that there is currently no rush. If I stop hoarding PTO, I can reduce my suffering by reducing my hours. If I increase my engagement outside of work, I can minimize the impact of my current work life. If I allow myself to be myself in job interviews (if I trust that I am not a shameful, broken thing who has to pretend to be someone else in order to be acceptable), I might actually find a job that I deserve and vice-versa. I’m excited about it, despite many avenues for fear and dread.

There’s a reason so many of us walk around with our eyes half-closed most of the time. Once you see what’s in front of you, you may be compelled to do something about it. And that ain’t always easy.