Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Importance of Being Yourself

The New Jersey Pine Barrens on a recent Canoe trip with a few friends

Losing a job is a complex issue. If you are not married or in a relationship like me, you depend on your friends and colleagues as a creative force and a source of support. At the same time not having these bonds allows you a freedom to live your life differently than those around you. As a soon to be 59 year old, I have seen economic crises come and go. I have also been a part of layoffs in the past and although it was not pleasant, I managed to survive them like everyone else, in spite of the bruises that you unfortunately get along the way.

Trees budding in this natural wonderland 40 minutes from my front door

When this happened to me at a younger age I was despondent and angry, even furious at everyone around me. I went as far as to resent friends who were employed, calculating why me and not them? Well, it was me who left a career at the prime to venture into a field that I really loved – landscape gardening. At that early point I was nearing forty and had all kinds of friends give me advice on what to do where to go and how to do just about everything but wiping my butt. They all meant well, but were forgetting the life I have led and the people that had formed me were people who made their own minds.

Tea Colored water from iron deposits

Somewhere in all this advice, was something that struck me funny. I was rocking the boat. Yes, I was changing the status quo on so many friends. Many felt threatened by someone doing something unplanned and out of the norm that many wished they could do but were hemmed in with mortgages, affairs, children, and other proper responsibilities. The idea that someone could live a life of their own choosing and on their own terms seemed preposterous.

A few members of the UUCH Community getting ready for the three hour canoe ride

This economic crisis has showed again that life lessons are everywhere. The people you find closest are the ones, of course, that are most concerned for you. They wish to help you by advising you in all manner of deeds, failing to see that your life is not as wrecked as they envision, but rather taking some turns. When all of this is over it may not be what it was before, but it will be something. Hopefully, you make something to your liking and create a new adventure out of your life.

Typical of the flock some went in canoes and others in kayaks

Over a year ago I was somewhat anxious about being alone. I was employed then, but certainly felt this tug-of-war about being free to live my life and wanting someone to help steer it. Somewhere the economic crisis hit bottom and I acted to preserve friendships a business and my sanity and lost a job. I have had a year to consider those decisions and I suspect that they were the only ones I could have made then. My dear friend Julia recently said that I lack that mate who I can bounce my ideas off. This way if I come up with a lousy one they will say so and I can react. Having no one of that intimacy she got stuck with the job and unfortunately we are undergoing a tough patch because of it. For this I am very sorry.

All enjoyed the outing and feast we had for lunch

Last year I befriended a Minister of the Unitarian Universalist faith and some of his close friends. I visited with him and saw him preach at his ministry in Georgia. When I returned I visited our local congregation and discovered a most unusual group of souls. Unitarian Universalists have no dogmas or liturgy other than to be a community of enlightenment, tolerance and to help one another. I have been an Atheist for most of my adult life, but have always believed in the power of man and a desire of a community of like minded people. This past Sunday I was officially welcomed as an Atheist, into the Unitarian Universalist Cherry Hill congregation. I believe this to be a sound decision and have already met and shared wonderful adventures with other not so radical thinkers like me. I haven’t solved all my issues, but one at a time…please. Enjoy being yourself!

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