Another song we are singing this season with Mosaic includes the line, “Life is filled with swift transitions.” Little did I know when I started the semester in January that this would be my last at CU. Unlike previous swift job transitions, this one was self-chosen—or at least Self chosen since it’s a soul thing. I am simultaneously saying no to a toxic environment where it was not feeling self-honoring to stay, and being called away into collective service in response to this particular political moment. Though I deeply love teaching and all of my students, I need to be available and can’t be when all my available time and creative energy is serving a dysfunctional institution whose values are antithetical to my own so I am taking my teaching beyond the confines of the ivory tower.
Of course, transitioning professionally in mid-life is anxiety-producing, and leaving one’s livelihood with no certain prospects of how I’ll be paying rent come May is pretty unnerving. I’ve been listening to the Graduation Mix cd I made for my Senior Seminar students last spring and feeling great solidarity with my current students who are graduating and facing their fears about finding their place in life. But my inner guidance has been 100% consistent about the rightness of this decision—even saying it will result in “tons of love and money” wow. The night I came home from campus after notifying my department chair that I was leaving, I received the message “A dark and difficult period is now finally over—express your joy,” which was a powerful affirmation of my intention to leap into the unknown.
In thinking about my next steps, which will likely include writing and public speaking, doing more of the Unlearning Racism workshops I’ve been doing around the country since the election, building my shamanic counseling practice (with the addition of professional cuddling, which seems like it could be a healing and needed offering in this political climate), leading vision quests for queer youth, and perhaps even opening my own university (something my partner and I have been talking about for a long time—free of grades, tuition, gatekeeping, ego and the other obstacles to actual learning in contemporary higher education), I’ve been getting 2 strong pieces of guidance:
The first is that my art will support me, which is well outside my belief system so that’s been a great opportunity for inner work, to start expanding my sense of what’s possible. The second is that I’m meant to have “exactly the right path for me,” which as a trans person who has spent my life fitting myself into other people’s worlds, feels equally preposterous. My first midlife crisis was when I graduated from college and looked out on the world at all the multitude of paths and couldn’t see mine. It is challenging for me to let myself even consider what it is that I might want in any situation because my main experience of life has been that whatever I might need in life is never even a possibility, so I’ve become very adept at accommodating the limitations of the binary world around me, which is pretty easy for me given the degree of fluidity I generally bring.
But I had a very painful experience in the fall that stemmed from my trying to fit my complex nuanced self and way of doing life into someone else’s limited framework. It had catastrophic consequences that I am still experiencing, so that was a very powerful reminder that I can’t live that way any longer. Even if I don’t know at this point what it might look like, I need to trust that putting together, piece by piece, “exactly the right path for me” will be the surest route not only to my own happiness, but to my highest path of service to the world.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly found that the soul doesn’t usually provide a lot of details about where you are going ahead of time lol—so it’s been reassuring knowing I only really need to focus on the NEXT step.
“Lost and alone on some forgotten highway
Travelled by many, remembered by few
Looking for something that I can believe in
Looking for something that I’d like to do with my life.
There’s nothing behind me and nothing that ties me to something that might’ve been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open, right now it seems to be more than enough to just be here today.
And I don’t know what the future is holding in store
I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the living and I don’t need to see the end.”
–“Sweet Surrender” by John Denver