Yes it is 2012, but we are not talking about December of 2012 and the shift of the planet. The shift is what Dr. Wayne Dwyer calls the moment when we realize that something inside of us has changed and we can never again approach life in the same way.
For me, the shift occurred in 2006 in Death Valley, California. I had spent the month of December 2005 on airplanes – flying twice from New Jersey to Chicago, squeezing a trip from New Jersey to Singapore to Manila to Singapore to Malaysia, back to Singapore and then home to New Jersey in between.
When Christmas came – we did not even bother to decorate our home – a tradition that in the past had always been very important to me. Instead, we decided to fly to Las Vegas for New Year’s, enjoying a few days in the sunshine of Death Valley before kicking off 2006.
While in Death Valley, a production problem occurred in what I used to think of as the “real world” – my professional responsibility. At the time, over 150 people reported to me in seven offices across the US and Asia. A US Marine term about a cluster comes to mind thinking back to this setup. However, prior to this trip I thought this “real world” was where I belonged.
When I found out about the issue at work – which incidentally should just have been backed out by my staff, effectively eliminating any negative repercussions – I realized that it was like manna from heaven for me. I simply did not care to be living in this “real world” any longer. The power was an allusion, the respect rendered artificial and capricious. The money was a bubble about to burst – in short – my life was no longer any fun. That hectic, power driven environment simply no longer served me.
Thomas Merton, the American Monk once said that all too often when you climb the ladder of success you find it is leaning against the wrong wall. I realized this as it was happening and that it was time to move on, shortly there after – I did.
When I related my story to my son a few years later, he asked if I ever enjoyed the life I used to live. To which, I had to admit that for a long time, yes – I did. The travel, the money, the respect, and the power all mattered greatly. But to my fifty-six year old human frame in 2006 – it no longer fit. Why?
I had shifted. I cared about my family and wanted to feel my spiritual self whole and at peace. I wanted to be authentic, saying what I wanted – not what my boss needed to hear. I wished to no longer be bound by what customers – all Global 500 corporations – demanded – but what I wanted. I was no longer willing to play the game. The catch was at that time, I had no idea that all of this turmoil was because I could no longer be the person I had become. It took four years of introspection, isolation and self doubt to arrive at that understanding.
Watching Wayne Dwyer’s movie “The Shift” in 2010 – changed everything. I realized that Spirituality, Family and Authenticity were my drivers; and that I had only to live according to new rules.
Studying Deepak Chopra’s interpretations of ancient Auyvedic knowledge, I realized that it was completely natural for people like me, in the afternoon of life, what the Hindi’s referred to as the elder phase of life, to want to show up differently. It was now important to me to give to others some of the enormous knowledge and treasure I had been gifted with in my life.
Through all of this, the most profound teaching in my journey has come from Eckhart Tolle – who taught to let go of my sad story and all the pain and suffering that I was holding on to that I believed made me so special. I realized that we all have stories, but we are not our story. Life after the shift is life without that sad story controlling our lives. It is a life that can be joy filled and on purpose if we allow it to be.
When we do this, when we let go, we can look forward to the afternoon and evening of life in the same way that I do when I am at Big Sur, watching the sun get low in the sky. Just knowing the feeling of bliss of the sun sneaking down over the horizon and being replaced by millions of stars in the night sky. This is not a time to retreat and retire but a time to live life fully and with purpose.