The Joy of Disaster

Since this is the first blog entry, I’d like to let you know what I intend it to be about. I turned 60 recently and I’m dropping many old notions about myself. One is that I’m old. In fact I feel like I’m just beginning my real life. Starting this blog is one of my new adventures. What I post here will be about things I’ve learned and am learning. Today I’m sharing what I’ve learned from a seeming disaster. Here’s the story.

Ten years ago, I was forced out of a beloved job. It was a devastating experience; my personal disaster. I couldn’t figure out why it was happening to me, because I felt like the Universe had presented me with this lovely opportunity only take it away two years later. I thought I was perfect for the job. The students liked me, I was qualified with a Masters in theatre, and I’d just finished my MAED so I could keep my job. Then I found myself thrown out on my ear. I had to have a job. We’d just bought a new house and a new car. I was in shock. But, I found a position in a more distant community teaching English at a middle school. That was the worst year of my life. I was so angry with the people responsible and with God, that I couldn’t concentrate on being a good teacher.

The next year was better. I moved to the high school and over the next four years, was able to be the drama club sponsor and even teach one drama class. I was still angry and unwilling to forgive. Every time I passed the turn off for the high school where I’d lost my job, I had a sick feeling. However, while I taught English and writing, something was bubbling under the surface trying to get my attention.

One spring day, I was driving to school thinking about the Henry David Thoreau reading we were going to be discussing in class. As I was crossing the San Pedro river, something about the selection struck my heart and I was flooded with the feeling that I needed to leave my comfortable teaching job and become a writer. I was reminded that years before that moment, I’d told my journal that I wanted to be a writer, but my practical mind took over and reminded me that to be a successful writer was difficult. I was silly and chose another career.

When the realization came to me that I was supposed to be a writer, lots of things had changed. The most important of them was that I’d lost this beloved job and been forced to teach writing. That’s what had been bubbling beneath the surface. The growing confidence in my own ability to write.

Something else was happening too. I realized that years before, I’d had an active spiritual life. For some reason, I’d chosen to go back to sleep. Being spiritual wasn’t going to pay the bills. Losing the job I thought was meant for me was part of my re-awakening process. My inner wisdom finally got through to me. I quit my job and began writing.

I love the life I’m living now. I’m learning lots of writing related things. I’m also learning a lot about myself.  One of the most important things I’ve learned is to forgive. Now when I drive by, or step into that high school, I don’t hate the people who engineered my departure. Like my father used to say, “People who hurt others, are in a lot of pain themselves.” I figure that was true in my case too.

I never thought I’d say that having my life fall apart would end up being one of the best things that happened to me. One thing I’m sure of, I might never have felt the joy I feel in the life I’m living, had it not been for losing that job.

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