“Life is not a thing to be managed, it’s a mystery to be lived.” Anonymous
In our Austin career coaching offices where our senior coaches see clients, sits a red heart-shaped box filled with some of our favorite inspirational and contemplative quotes. At the end of each career coaching session, clients get to choose a small piece of folded yellow paper from this container to take home and reflect on.
People love this little ritual. I think it’s because they enjoy the synchronous nature of this small gesture, knowing the box is filled with 250 quotes from wise teachers from across the continents and centuries and that just maybe, they’ll receive the perfect words of guidance needed to support them in their “next steps.” And, invariably, they do. (In fact, we’ve had clients choose the same quote multiple times, even though there are hundreds of quotes that are being replenished each month!)
This memory came flooding back to me yesterday while accompanying my 6th grader to the Dell Children’s Medical Center to interview pediatric palliative care doctors and social workers about their work with children who are near death. It was an emotionally turbulent and exhausting day and I couldn’t stop thinking about the parents and the levels of stress these families were enduring. But what stayed with me as I sat in bed last night reading and reflecting on this powerful and humbling experience, was a comment from one of the social workers who said she did this work because she has always been moved by the mystery surrounding death (my son is also very interested in “end of life” work–thus his reason for choosing this focus for his school project which was inspired by Zach Sobiech, a 17 year-old cancer victim).
I remember a radio interview years ago with one of the foremost experts in the world on Nessie—the legendary Loch Ness sea creature. The interviewer, John St. Augustine, was musing on why people are so captivated by these stories, even though science considers them folklore. John said he thought it was because these stories help people to feel alive and remind them they’re more than their to-do lists.
I believe life’s mysteries and synchronicities help us to feel more connected to each other and to our own humanity, to what is possible, to our unique and yet-to-be manifest potential.
When I speak to organizations and companies about enhancing work-life balance, one of the things I hear again and again is that people are craving more meaning in their life—they desire a greater sense of connection to themselves and to others. They not only want to be connected to the larger web of why we’re here—they need it.
I was fortunate to be raised by parents who constantly encouraged us to look for and revel in the mysteries of life (they would not hesitate to put down the vaccume cleaner to have a conversation about how spiders weave webs). I believe this is what being human is all about.
P.S. Need support and inspiration for reconnecting to the mysteries life and what matters most to you? A retreat is a wonderful way to do this. Check out my 2014 retreat schedule (kudos to all the great guys who have been sending their partners to our retreats–what wonderful birthday and Mother’s Day gifts!).
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. More on her background here.