Reprieve From The Muck

September 22, 2008

Great news! The articles and assignments I was reading for the Finding Your True Calling study group were the wrong ones! The wrong page numbers were sent out by mistake. So all that muckiness wasn’t necessary, and thank goodness I can forget about it. Except I can’t, and I shouldn’t.

It’s kind of like being in high school or college and dreading a particular class. You knew you would have to take it and everyone complained about it, like government or economics or statistics. One semester you got your schedule, sure the class would be on it, and found out you had a reprieve because it just wouldn’t fit in. You were thrilled. But then you came back down to earth and remembered you were going to have to take that class some time, so you had just delayed the misery.

So the exercises that ask me to think back to my childhood or adolescence or young adulthood and remember what mattered to me are looming in my future. The one that asks me to imagine what I would do if I didn’t have to worry about money will show up in the next three months, causing me to question my entire purpose and core beliefs. Instead of avoiding them until they are back on the schedule, I’m going to spend a little time each week with the ideas they stir up.

Considering the exercises last week opened up a lot of windows in my not-quite-conscious mind. They stirred up some memories and energized some values that I have but was taking for granted. I’m still in the middle of the process of uncovering and sorting things out. It’s disconnected and still a little confusing.

I think I’m getting back into the tension between coaching and counseling again. My former career as a therapist has been showing up in twilight dreams, the ones I have as I’m just starting to fall asleep. It also resurfaced when two different people contacted me to ask questions about possible psychological disorders in a friend or family member. It required me to use some skills and stored facts that were getting dusty sitting in the back of my mind. And the path pointed me back to my graduate school professors as people with answers to some specific and unique questions. This is pushing me to reclaim my past vision and integrate it more fully into my new vision instead of treating it as something set aside.

I have also had a couple of deep sleep dreams lately where I wind up owning a child care center again. The dreams have a strange sense of obligation, where either because of the expertise my mother and I have or because of other people’s struggles running a center we are drawn back in. It’s a “reluctant hero” archetype in many ways. But the feelings I have in the dreams are resignation and apprehension. Going back feels like being stuck when I’m in the dream. When I’m awake and considering the dream, I feel unresolved. When I left that career, I think I left something behind that I need to reclaim.

Together the dreams and more vibrant memories of my two past careers are telling me I’ve got to include them in the development of my new career. My approach has been to look at them as closed chapters, only willing to carry forward the bits that help point me to my calling. I’ve seen my past career choices as me getting sidetracked while trying to find my real calling.

But there’s more information than that in my past choices. If I were looking at me from the perspective of another person, I would recommend seeing the previous careers as different stages or manifestations of a calling, not near-misses. I hope I can eventually integrate my past careers more fully with my new one. The more I use all the aspects of my self in this work the more capable and comfortable I will be.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey


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