you and me

Life Is Not Meant to Be Lived in a Straight Line.

 

To say that we are all complicated beings and that each of us has many parts to our psyche is an understatement, especially when we need to face turning points and difficult changes in our lives.

Turning points in life can be very painful and unexpected, but are often necessary to make major changes in life — and sometimes in ways that feel like these changes are made without our own volition or even against our own will. But this is not true. Regardless of how challenging they might be, more often than not we create such transformations for our own higher good.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have kicked and screamed through a change, and felt terribly wronged by it until — sometimes only years later — realizing that not only had I created the change but I had wanted it.

It is my experience that the part of us which kicks and screams is usually our frightened self, and the part that creates the necessary change is our Higher Self (for lack of better terminology).

Supposedly unwanted and shocking changes usually happen when we, well, have lied to ourselves for too long, stayed in a job or a relationship that was not serving us anymore except, perhaps, helping to keep us surviving.

I do believe that sometimes it is nothing else but our own soul that can knock us out of survival mode, as if telling us, “You are more. You carry a divine being within. Act like one! It is not just about the mortgage and the bills,” after which our soul mercilessly throws us into the Sea of Existence to teach us how to swim.

It is a tough lesson, I agree, especially when, in this embodiment, we do have so-called financial responsibilities and the material part of ourselves to support.

Yet, in my experience, if a change happens through the promoting of the soul or of Grace, we are not allowed to drown. On the contrary, we are given another chance to make a better choice.

Ernest Hemingway said that the best way to start a story is somewhere in the middle, so this is where I will start.

I was in my early 30s, married, and working as a teacher in Toronto. I can’t even express to you how much I hated my job. I hated it! I know this is an ugly word but, sorry, it fits exactly how I felt then. Not that it was a bad job, but it was not for me! I kept the job because I believed that it would save my marriage, that I would finally fit in and  have some money after being a postgrad student for a while.

For those same reasons, I had also rejected two prestigious scholarships from the University of Toronto to do my PhD. And, of course, I hoped at the time that teaching would allow me the time to write and I could fulfill my dream of being a writer. But most of the time I was too exhausted to write and too unhappy to even dream.

I was living like this because, quite unconsciously, I was trying to be good by society’s standards.

One day, my then-husband and I were on a bus to work (that day we were teaching at the same high school). I looked at the dirty slush of melting snow on the street, then at my husband, whom I loved, and knew that I could not do this anymore.

More than that, I was given a vision. And in that vision, he and I were travelling on that bus for the rest of our lives, teaching in a high school, arguing about money, and wondering what life would have been had we made other choices.

That day, I made a choice that this would not happen. But it was not easy. I had always wanted to live in the tropics, so I applied for jobs around the world and eventually got one in Malaysia.

Nothing made sense then. Big changes never make rational sense to anyone, not even to us.

I thought, “Why the hell am I leaving everything for another teaching job? I want to write.” But the relentless voice within me said, “Take it,” so I did.

In Malaysia, a year after teaching in a pre-University program, I was headhunted by an Australian University to teach for them and I ended up completing a PhD with them as well as I travelled and lived in the tropics, just as I had always dreamed of doing.

In Malaysia, I also had the best teaching experiences in my life and began writing again — short stories, which were later published in Best Australian Stories collections.

From there, I moved on to Melbourne, where I taught at various universities and tertiary institutions and continued to write.

But that is only a small part of the story. There were other challenges, such as finding myself unemployed after finishing my PhD in Melbourne, having no money to pay the rent, living at a kind friend’s while desperately applying for jobs, and meditating for hours just to stay sane.

Guess what? It all paid off. The meditation gave me clarity. The temporary unemployment not only taught me compassion, but also gave me an opportunity to join two Australian men who had made some discoveries in the Holy Land and who exposed me to the Gnostic Gospels.

I managed to convince them to take me along, and offered in return to write a book about their discoveries — The Jerusalem Diary — my first book. A few months later, I landed a job at a university.

So what does it all mean, and what does it have to do with the Goddess?

In all ancient traditions, the Goddess is represented by a spiral, dancing energy of Life. Call it Shakti, call it Intuition, or call it Grace. That Goddess is an expression of our lives. She is our Life — complex, spiral, and filled with our Destiny. She reminds us that Life is not meant to be lived in a straight line.

She reminds us, as we follow her guidance, to live fully, to explore life, and to trust. Yes, trust. It all works out. But we need to be fearless and trusting. We need to listen to our Inner Voice and not the deranged voice of the outside world that only wants us to repeat the lives of our ancestors. Perhaps these external voices are well meant, but they are nevertheless fear-based.

Perhaps someone does not want us to fulfill our Destiny. That is their problem, because they do not have the courage to live their own lives to the fullest. Perhaps they can’t for some reason. But we can.

That is why, I believe, spiritual practice (rather than worship) is so essential for our growth and connection with the Divine — whatever it is — because it allows us to hear this Inner Voice and helps us block external noise. This is what the fear is: noise from the outside.

One of my writing goddesses, a French writer Colette, once said (I’m paraphrasing here), “You can live your life thinking what it could have been, or you can live your life so one day you can say: Ah, what a Life it has been!”

The difficult changes are asking us to make this choice.

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Dr. Joanna Kujawa is the author of Jerusalem Diary (a spiritual travelogue) and many short stories, essays and academic pieces. She sees herself as a Spiritual Detective who asks difficult questions about spirituality, such as ‘Can spirituality and sexuality be experienced as one?’, ‘Who was the real Mary Magdalene?’, ‘How can we include eco-spirituality in our belief systems?’ and ‘How can we bring back the Divine Feminine to create a more balanced and interconnected world?’ Her goal is to create and participate in the shift in consciousness about spirituality, our connection to nature, and our place in the Universe. She has PhD from Monash University, and MA and BA from the University of Toronto.  She is immoderately passionate about her Goddess News blog. You could connect with her via her websiteFacebookTwitter or YouTube.

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