Do you ever feel completely secure?
Lately, I’ve been pondering security. . . . what makes me feel secure, safe, comfortable. Some of this pondering has to do with my coming to the end of a cancer journey, but it’s also connected with my quitting my “secure” teaching job in 2008, a job from which I will get (supposedly) some retirement benefits when I turn 60 (I turned 54 last month). And it has to do with my not having replaced that security with some other security.
Until 2008, I pretty much made decisions based on security. Is my job stable and secure? Will it provide retirement income and health insurance? Can I count on a salary each month, something to pay the bills? So it was kind of out of character for me to give that up. I did it because, frankly, I was miserable. I loved teaching high school English for most of my career, but that passion waned until it was nearly gone. And I had a financial safety net that would last for a year or two, maybe longer if I was lucky.
I made the non-secure step of quitting – without a plan for security. And then, a three years into this experiment, I got cancer.
Talk about upsetting my feelings of security!
But you know what? Even though I used to talk about security as an illusion, that situation brought my lack of security to more than an intellectual idea.
Cancer made it real.
And since that diagnosis, I’ve been looking at life differently. Did I really make my biggest life decisions based on security? Even though security is not even real??
I sure did.
So how do I live now – now that I know with absolute certainty that my life can change in an instant, that security is an illusion?
I’m still figuring that out. I do know that I don’t want to make decisions based solely on financial considerations, to have an income-producing job be the center point of my entire existence, for it to rule my time and my decisions.
Yes, I have to have money, but how much? How much do I really need? How many things that I think I have to have can I actually do without? Do I have the courage to choose less and live in a new way?
I’m working on that. On finding what I truly need and what makes my heart sing. And choosing only those things.
I’m a big fan of the Beatitudes of the Gospel of Matthew because they push me into letting go of what I think I want. They tell me I’m blessed when things look bad – when I’m lacking spirit and am mourning and am meek and am craving righteousness and am merciful and have a pure heart and am seeking peace and am feeling persecuted. Some of those don’t sound like blessings, but in those times, times when I’m not secure, I’m my most real, my truest self.
When I don’t feel secure, I’m free to be myself more than ever.
Sounds crazy, huh? That’s why I am so resistant, so slow to change, so avoidant.
But sometimes crazy is the most real. As I’m starting to find out. I’m dipping my toe in that pool of crazy paradox, seeing if I can let go of what I thought was real – for what is real.
To give up security for reality. I think I can do it. I know I need to.
Maybe it’s easier if I’m not alone?
Anybody coming with me?