During a recent conversation I had with a former colleague, I was asked how things were progressing with my transition from preschool educator to full-time freelance writer, and if I had any thoughts of returning to the classroom to “finish up” the path I was on. I hesitated but for a moment before replying, “Not to the classroom per se, but hoping to make an impact in some other way.”
This past spring, I left a teaching position after 12 years in order to care for my elderly father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. After nearly five months, he eventually succumbed to this incurable disease, in addition to some other complications that would later wreak havoc with his mind and body.
This isn’t the first time where a significant event has necessitated my taking a pause of sort, to reassess where I stand with my own health and well-being (let alone whether I’m still “on track” regarding my career path). It just happens to be the most recent.
I think most folks would agree that, when it comes to choosing a career, optimally it should align with one’s core values and originate from a state of abundance. In this case, the term abundance pertains to fulfillment, not an overflow of possessions or financial assets. I’ve come to find that when each of these two components is in synch with one another, we stand a much better chance of realizing our connectedness to both self and to others.
It’s something I learned first-hand from Dr. Rick Jarow, quite literally the pioneer of the “anti-career” movement. I’ve mentioned him in a prior column some years ago, praising the effectiveness of a seminar I’d attended at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. Nearly a hundred individuals gathered over a three-day weekend. The vast majority cited dealing with “corporate burn-out” as the primary reason for their participation, when asked during introductions. Many, in fact, were brought to tears that first evening when describing the seemingly insurmountable pressure they’d been feeling for years simply in order to maintain the status quo.
Jarow has masterfully compiled numerous examples of similar experiences, along with strategies and techniques to overcome them, in a guide he has titled: “Creating the Work You Love.” By examining various issues related to one’s chakras or energy centers, he suggests that a pathway can then be established that will focus exclusively on purpose, and how we might align that vision with meaningful employment opportunities.
This time around, my circumstances are quite a bit different from those prior occasions when I would periodically reference his body of work, but nonetheless, I continue to find great value in its application to this day.
Once again, I am presented with two critical questions by Jarow that require some serious thought as I put things into motion: “What contribution can I make to my community, to my world? How can my desire serve the whole?”
For the past 12 years, both of these inquiries were satisfied on a rather “local” level if you will, principally by working on a daily basis with preschoolers from at-risk families and through assisting several non-profits, some of which tackle food scarcity issues, here on the East End of Long Island. Needless to say, throughout the course of the pandemic there were extraordinary challenges associated with each, but thankfully, through much perseverance and dedication, those needs were able to be met.
Lately, one of the more significant ways in which I’ve chosen to make a greater impact has been combining my experiences as a researcher and educator, with those of my script-writing skills. For just over a year now, I’ve been developing stand-alone episodes for a very popular science and history-based educational podcast that airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It reaches nearly a million young children each month from around the globe, and the feedback we’ve received from thousands of parents, teachers and students has truly been remarkable.
Creating imaginative, engaging content that promotes critical thinking skills, without a need for screens, has turned what was once a dream of mine into an impactful reality, filled with purpose. Or as Jarow so elegantly puts it: “A strong priority becomes stronger through envisioning its possibility and cultivating the feeling that arises with it. The beginning of a new vision may be felt as restlessness or a vague uneasiness with the way things are. It takes a certain maturity to translate such a feeling into effective action.”