Thinking Outloud

It Starts with Permission

It Starts with Permission

I don’t know about you but shedding my Covid mask has been liberating and a little scary. Even after being fully vaccinated, I wore a mask for 6 weeks in public even while ballroom dancing. 

New York Times columnist, David Brooks, gave the commencement address to the graduating class of Boston College which was later adapted as his column in the May 28th print edition of the Times. He entitled it “The Great Unmasking”.

Brooks asked the graduates to consider “As we take off the physical masks, it seems appropriate that we take off the psychological masks as well.” 

What masks have you been wearing? How long have you been wearing them and at what cost? 

  • The “too busy” mask?
  • The self-doubt mask?
  • The distrust mask?
  • The “follow the rules” mask?
  • The “never let them see you sweat” mask?

Family, culture, school, religious training all came together in my life to show me “the way”, nose to the grindstone, work hard, get an education. All was meant for my good and also took no account of who I was at the core. Eventually, I was so masked that even I could not see me. 

I have a very active mind and for decades lived out of my head. Thinking was always in the driver’s seat. I did not take into account what resonated with the deeper parts of my being, what I valued, what I desired or how I felt about it. I considered these indicators to be inferior, not to be trusted. 

Later, I came to understand that most of the disasters in my life came from “my best thinking” and most especially when I ignored what my gut, my inner guidance, was telling me.

In her most recent book, The Way of Integrity, my teacher and mentor, Martha Beck describes Finding Your Inner Guidance, this way. 

“No external guide you meet will ever be as accurate as the teacher in your soul, and none can be as accurate. “When we grasp truth- any truth, from the correct solution to a math problem to the capacity for love-all the ways of knowing align. // It feels calm, clear, still, open. That feeling is the inner teacher saying yes.” 

What is your inner teacher saying as you move out of pandemic life? Can you give yourself permission to explore what you long for in life, relationships and work?

In a recent article*  on NPR.org, Andrea Hsu talked about how millions of people are leaving their former jobs in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. Yes, more happiness

(*As The Pandemic Recedes, Millions Of Workers Are Saying ‘I Quit’ June 24th article on NPR.org by Andrea Hsu) 

Hsu quoted Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere, who said “We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed. Workers now crave the flexibility given to them in the pandemic — which had previously been unattainable.”

Are you ready to take off your mask? Are you ready to look yourself in the eye and ask the hard questions? How do you align your life & work around what you value most?  

In his Boston College commencement address, David Brooks quoted Annie Dillard who said, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”If Covid -19 taught us nothing else, it taught us that lesson.

 

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