For the first time in decades I don't have an official job.
I feel free and untethered. Like a bird with no place to land who, while feeling a bit disquieted, is finding great joy in riding the updrafts and downdrafts of the breeze.
In the past, this sense of being jobless, free and untethered would have left me overly anxious. Uncertain even, of who I am and what I am doing here.
To lessen the anxiety, I would have created all kinds of busywork to provide me a sense of worth and purpose. So I could tell people, "I'm so busy!" as a way of justifying every breath I take. Of making them think I am important. Of convincing myself of the same.
Only activity could quell the anxiety.
This feeling - a sense of internal and external emptiness, and the frantic activity that often follows - is called "ontological lightness."
One author describes it as,
"[Feeling] invisible in the ... blankness,
[Discovering] ... that when I stop doing and simply listen to my heart, I am not anchored to anything substantive.
I become aware that my very identity is synonymous with activity."(John Eldredge - The Sacred Romance)
Maybe its my age, or perhaps a tiny hint of spiritual maturity, but this time I am not giving in to the internal voice that tells me I better start hustling ... or else!
I better get busy and stay busy and tell people about all the incredibly important plans I now have for my life.
I better have something impressive to write in the occupation section of the paperwork at the doctor's office.
I better have something to say that I DO next time I find myself at a cocktail party.
That voice is pretty quiet now. I mostly just say shhhhh ... and it stops talking.
People have been asking me, "What's next for you? What are you doing with your time?" or even more pointedly, "I can't wait to see what you do next!"
This is all out of kindness and curiosity, I know.
But there is something deep within me that is hearing, and therefore, answering those questions in a new, vulnerable way.
I say, "I don't know what's next for me, but I do know what's right in front of me" or "I am taking time to simply be."
These answers, as my ears hear me saying them, push aside feelings of ontological lightness and create an inner weightiness that has to do with the joy of being me, of living in the now, of experiencing life as a gift of experiences, rather than a frantic, cut-throat competition to prove that I am worthy of the oxygen I breathe.
I don't know what's next, but I know who I am.
And that - for now - appears to be more than enough.