This week I had coffee with a friend I've known for many years.
She looked incredibly happy.
"I just came from a really good interview," she said.
We talked about that one, and the others she'd been on.
It was clear to me that some of these jobs would not be good. But she was exhilarated to be away from "that micromanaging bully of a boss."
My friend asked me how I am doing.
"Incredibly, incredibly grateful."
We went on to talk a little bit about me. I shared that my priority right now was work-life balance. While I am happy to be productive at work, it is time for me to focus on my family again. On social causes, and friends and of course spend as much time as possible writing.
"I don't get it," said my friend.
In effect the question was, Why aren't you more ambitious?
I understood her perspective completely. For many years, I was that person running on the treadmill. Nobody could keep up with the kind of expectations I set for myself.
And it never seemed to end.
Neither did the misery of trying to attain some kind of goal I couldn't even articulate in my own head.
Somehow this all came to a head for me during Sabbath last week. I was in synagogue, involuntarily as usual (it's not my favorite place) and reflecting that my daughters had both advised me to pray at least once a week.
Prayer is not for me, I told them. G-d can hear me even if I do not speak.
So I stood there and put my head in my hands for a minute and really thought about things.
I realized my endless worries about money, career and success were only hampering me, not helping.
That my fear of poverty, which I've always had, was getting in the way of my life. For too many years it has translated into workaholism, which in turn fed my ego. I had become the kind of person that needed a pat on the back just for waking up and facing the day.
So I took my daughters' advice and prayed. Looking into my soul, I realized the negative impact that all this stuff had had on my life. And I asked - no, begged is a better word - I begged Him to help me just let go of all of it. To have more faith, and just do what I need to do.
Well, it felt like many minutes that I stood there asking for G-d's help. Felt (to me at least) as though I'd shouted out to Him from the rooftops.
But all around me there was quiet. As usual, everyone was immersed in the service. They didn't even look at me; my prayers were invisible.
I think about this today as Sabbath approaches, and this saying pops into my mind that I learned as a kid. "If you keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath will keep you."
Many years I spent working so very hard on the weekends, trying to advance my career.
The older I get the more I realize, there is no better way to advance yourself as a human being - as a human being - than to spend 24 hours a week simply stopping.
All opinions my own. Photo by ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ - เทวประภาส มากคล้าย via Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0).