Episode 44 The Dance With Not Knowing

April 12, 2023

Good morning from New York City. I keep thinking about two separate conversations I’ve had over the past month or so. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you know, I’m always looking for clues in the form of recurring thoughts and basically anything that happens more than twice. It always calls my attention.

That’s why I find myself thinking about a conversation I had the other night. I went to an event at Christie’s. It was a book launch for Martin Fletcher, a veteran NBC war reporter. During the course of the evening, I interjected myself in a conversation and I was introduced to a gentleman who told me that he had recently retired from NBC. As our conversation started to wane, I said to him ‘I’m very intrigued by the fact you own the word retired’. He burst out laughing “oh, don’t tell my wife, she hates that word.”

Say more”, I said. “I have a lot of thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours first.” He continued “I’m not retired. I’ve recently retired from NBC.” He went on to tell me that he is up for a political appointment and secretly hopes he doesn’t get it. This intrigued me. Again, he made the joke “but don’t tell my wife.”

I spoke a bit about myself, told him about the Modern Elder Academy and gave him the names of a couple of people whom I thought he might enjoy following. I talked about longevity and how that’s impacted the thinking and talking about life after 55. It was a generally fun conversation.

Then he told me something that I found interesting. I don’t remember the exact context, but he was telling me about a book that he was hugely fascinated by in high school. It had something to do with Ireland. He had been obsessed with it, and he told me that he had recently contacted his high school teacher and was having lunch with him the following week.

I could go on and on about my many thoughts about our conversation, but I’d like to say two things that really stand out for me. First, we had a conversation about the importance of switching off the left brain. Now this guy was a senior executive in a major news organization in a very analytical and structured part of the organization. Switching off the left brain is not something that’s easy. It takes time. You need to sort of expand into your space to switch on the right brain, which is the part of your brain that’s creative and allows your subconscious and creativity to come through. It’s that meandering, wandering, wondering part that is so rich and ripe that I’ve talked about before.

So, I found it super interesting that he told me this story about the book and looking up his teacher and really not wanting to take that political appointment. The other part of the story that stands out for me is the response from his spouse. I’ve spoken about this in past episodes. People projecting and negative questioning. Of course, the doubt and fear that his wife is speaking to could be many things. It could be her own fears about retiring. It could be her financial concerns. It could be about the changing nature of their relationship. It could be many things. But the point is, at least in my mind, he’s very clear that he wants to take a time out. He does not want to go back to work right now. He wants to explore some of his old interests. I

I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with all of this except to say that this whole idea of not knowing what’s next makes people very uncomfortable. I understand it and I empathize. Right now, I am in that position myself. and I think that we’ve been hardwired to always know what’s next. We’re basically hardwired to fear the uncertainty and to be risk adverse, and that it’s dangerous. We’re taught from a young age, for example, never to leave a job unless we have another job. While that may serve its purpose in some ways earlier in our lives, as we get older and we have some experience under our belt – and hopefully greater wisdom, greater financial stability – it’s so important to be willing and able to sit with not knowing. To allow our mind to wander, to think about possibilities, and to generate ideas. It’s important to get clear and separate what we know from what others are projecting onto us.

I want to close today by reading a brief one paragraph from the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, which I’ve referenced in the past. It’s April 7th offering, and it’s called Being Shaped by Others.

This is at once the clearest of spiritual intents, and yet the hardest to stay true too. How to stay open to what others feel and not to what they think. We cannot live without being affected by others, but we are only real when we let truth and love shape us from within or want to be liked or want to avoid conflict or want to be understood. All these traits tease us away from taking the voice within seriously. Too much is lost in waiting for someone else to tell us what moves us is real.

So, I’ll end by saying that I hope my NBC friend listens to his own instincts, does not take that appointment, allows himself to rediscover and reengage lost hopes and dreams. He’s got plenty of proof that he’s not a lazy person who’s going to dig a hole and put their head in the sand. I felt a lot of excitement and possibility for him, and I trust he’ll find his way.

That’s all for now. Until next time, from my heart to yours

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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