Orin Hahn describes listening to the voice within, and making the decision to walk away.
In early 2007, I had everything good going for me. I had recently joined a large publishing firm that handled production for over half a dozen publications which catered to some of the wealthiest people across the country. I was in my third year of a serious relationship and discussing marriage possibilities. I had some cash in the bank and had begun a sizable investment portfolio. I was the lowest weight I’d been in about 15 years and exercising nearly daily at my local yoga studio.
Despite all of this, I was quietly growing miserable with each passing day.
All these things that seemed to be going so right just made the nagging feeling that much more confounding. All my long held dragons had been slain, and goals that seemed to be far away were now my everyday life.
It all started less as a feeling or thought and more as a series of increasing pains and growing disabilities. First there was the sleeplessness, that wasn’t even that noticeable because it had been a lifelong pattern that always came and went.
Next, and most noticeable, was the back and neck pain. Despite being limber in yoga class and reaching new goals regularly when in the studio, outside of it I was constantly feeling aches and pains. I found myself visiting my chiropractor more and more frequently. Several months in I was up to 3 visits a week.
Finally the thought started forming, what if all this isn’t what I actually want? Was I plugged into something I even cared about?
When I joined the firm the idea of being a part of this lavish success sounded great, there was talk of the company parties out in the Hamptons, the celebrity guest appearances. There was decadence to be had, but I couldn’t find any enjoyment in it. The big ticket window dressing I was immersed in felt more and more conflicting when contrasted with the simple peace of mind and sense of well-being I had for an hour spent in sweats on the yoga mat focusing on just taking a breath.
I should probably mention that this unrest was fed in no small part by a visceral sense of limited time. I had buried my mother less than a year before. It had not been a simple or easily accepted death. We had clashed up to the end in spectacular displays of misunderstanding and shouting. If I took one thing away that still follows me it was this moment of going to her house shortly afterward and seeing some dishes in the sink. I started doing them out of habit of finishing cycles before I realized it just wasn’t worth it.
Everything was going to go, and the time for her to finish this arbitrary task was done. There was nothing more to be done here.
I didn’t want to build a world of someone else’s dreams as a valued servant, I wanted to see what I had within me and could discover at large. Worse yet I had the ability for the first time in my life and kept wondering.
Why? Why am I here, what am I waiting for? I didn’t want unwashed dishes to be what I left behind, thinking there was a later to be had.
My immediate supervisor, to his credit, was a good man. I told him I needed to talk and we went for a long stroll through a local park. I told him I appreciated his investment in me but I needed to leave and do, well frankly I didn’t even quite know what. He was as understanding as possible and we agreed to an orderly two week wrap up.
I went home that night and came back the following day, we informed the rest of the team and work proceeded as usual. The back pains got worse, to the point where I couldn’t sit or stand without wincing. I left early, visited my doc, popped pain pills and took a nap.
I woke up in a contorted shape, breathing hard and having a major anxiety attack. It was the middle of the night. I called my boss’ voicemail and told him in between labored breaths that I just couldn’t do it, not anymore, not for a second, not at all. I was sorry but I had to go, now.
I hung up, took a breath, and found that the pain had left.
This post originally appeared at Spirituality for the Sarcastic
Photo: nocholas_t / flickr