A few years ago, a woman I'd known since we were kids (and with whom I was madly, and quite hopelessly, in love) introduced me to a book called "Creating the Work You Love" by Rick Jarow. Trained in both Eastern and Western traditions, Jarow eschews the traditional career-track model for what he mischievously calls an "Anti-Career" - work that frees you rather than enslaving you. Jarow's method - derived from the chakra system - offers a framework for finding a path to a better livelihood. But the value of the system isn't limited to the 9-to-5 world; it can be applied to anything worthwhile. I've adapted Jarow's system here:
CREATING THE WORLD YOU LOVE
1. Abundance: "a visceral feeling of trust in life, self-esteem, and the value of being who you are in the world". Our enemies tell us: "You seek life, and we seek death." We do indeed seek life. We trust in life, in the world's abundance, in our own nature.
2. Feeling: "What do you care about? What makes you indignant enough to change yourself and/or the world?" Cynicism is our greatest enemy.
3. Focus: We are responsible for our own direction. Progress is not a straight line, nor a static, idealistic utopia. It is a path - a trajectory, perhaps - whose shape we can but dimly discern and whose destination is hidden from us by the Mysterious One. We can begin by setting goals for six months in the future - goals that, if we can achieve them, will give us reason to feel better about ourselves and the world.
4. Sharing: "The heart is the seat of prosperity." All of us - conservatives, liberals, neoconservatives, independents - can work together. We must. By sharing with others, helping the poor in our hometowns and in faraway lands, by sending "care packages" to our warriors who fight for freedom; and by networking, sharing ideas, building coalitions, talking with our neighbors, speaking up for what's right, learning from others - we become part of the whole even as we find ourselves.
5. Creativity: "If the job you want does not presently exist, you can create it! Have a vision of the world as it could be, not a concept (i.e. freedom, justice, equality) but an actual visceral sense of what could be." Our enemies - who worship brutal totalitarianism and abject anarchy - are especially weak here because they lack any positive vision of the future. That vision is what gives the struggle meaning and power - and brings responsibility.
6. Spirit: By opening ourselves to the higher Plan, we bring the Spirit into our struggle.
7. Mystery: "There are forces at work that we cannot even begin to conceive of." Authoritarianism believes in having all the answers. Civilized beings know that we will never have all the answers; we live by asking questions. And we live by faith.
This morning I spent a couple of hours at Fred Meyer shopping for care-packages for our troops. There is always more to do. But for now, it's time to let go of action and get ready for Shabbat.