The adventure with The Joy Diet by Martha Beck continues. I loved this chapter on play! It really caught me by surprise, as some of the other sections have. But when I read this one it felt like an aha moment!
Ever since I was a teenager I've occasionally framed my life in the most dramatic scenarios I could think of. I remember throwing up to my mother in my mind's eye - "I don't care if my room is neat! Is it important to have on my tombstone 'Here lies Becky. She always had a neat room? or She could wear a size 8' " Whatever the current demands were that I wasn't meeting.
As I've grown older the line that I often find useful to remind myself what's important is from Psalm 90: "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom."
My early heroes were people who were selfless, smart, inquisitive, compassionate, dedicated. And they went up a few notches if they had a good sense of humor.
While my earlier dreams of going off to save the world never materialized, my "jobs" and my career actually did line up quite well. I ended up as a physical therapist for 40 years. Some aspects of that can be aggravating, frustrating just like any other job. But for the most part I loved working with people in a way that I hope did make a difference for them. We were frequently able to make play out of our visits together. Since I spent a lot of that time in home care, we could use our sessions to tailor their efforts to what was most important to them.
In my retirement I'm often reflecting on what I'm called to do. Time with our grandchildren, being able to support our kids' busy lives by helping with transportation or errands, having time to visit aging family members, being able to enjoy friends - these are clearly part of my career. I feel so lucky to be able to do these things.
Painting, using my painting to promote a vision that I embrace, has come as such a surprise to me at this point in my life! It brings me so much joy, opens so many new doors.
Rowing, walking, yoga, exercise - are small steps to my larger visions. By keeping myself in good shape I'll have the ability to continue doing what I love as long as possible.
Martha talks about the games we play - and how we need to evaluate them in terms of our real career. If they don't serve that, then we need to find a different game. I didn't have those words or concepts to use at the time but when I made a job change that surprised some of my family and flew in the face of societal norms I realize that that's what I was doing - walking away from a game that didn't serve my real purpose. Those events in our lives can be really scarey, but deep down we know they're right.
I feel like I have reached the stage where it IS more like water flowing than swimming against a current. There are surely going to be difficult times. But I like having this concept of career and play to keep myself honest - to keep checking to make sure that I'm serving that divine spark that I've been given. It keeps going back to identifying that desire.
I've posted an image of one of my standing stones that was inspired by Catherine DeVinck's poem The Womanly Song of God.
To see how others in the Jamie Ridler's book club responded to this chapter check out her blog at: http://tnc-thejoydiet.blogspot.com/