Walking Papers

Among other things, we think of Thanksgiving as a celebration of religious freedom. Yes, I know there’s more to say about that. We know that the Pilgrims did indeed come to the American continent to escape religious persecution and practice Christianity as they understood it. We also know that they weren’t necessarily wild about other people having religious freedom; it isn’t until Roger Williams shows up and, eventually, gets kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that the idea of celebrating religious diversity comes up. There’s some learning and growing to do there.

But isn’t there always? History is important. It’s good to know where we’ve been. But knowing what we’re going to do about it is better. Where are we going?

You probably don’t have a buckle on your hat. But you’re still a pilgrim. We all are. Each and every person is on a pilgrimage, a search for courage and Truth. Each and every person is in a process of growth. Each and every person is on a journey; the key to life is embracing it.

No, there’s no geographical cure. Wherever you go, you are still you. Unless and until there is a shift in consciousness, life won’t change, no matter what our zip code is. We talk about this all the time. We’re experts.

We also know what the geographical cure thing does not mean. It doesn’t mean putting up with toxic or dysfunctional situations. It doesn’t mean holding still. Life, after all, is not an endurance event. There are no merit badges for suffering.

So how do these two ideas work together? With apologies to Joe Strummer, should I stay or should I go?

Here’s my advice: Get really good at being where you are. Look this moment square in the eye and take it all in. Get so full of whatever right now has to offer that you’re ready to move on. And then go.

You are here, in this place, this relationship, this career, this situation, to learn and to teach. If you try to sneak away before you’ve done those two things, the educational opportunity will follow you wherever you go. If you’re paying attention, life will tell you when you’ve got your walking papers and it’s time to move on. You’ll know, because things will be uncomfortable in places you used to fit in. You grew. You’ll know because you’ll be so inspired that you can’t sit still. You’ll know.

There are some people who’ll go with you on your journey. There are some who’ll need to stick around for a while. They’ll catch up later. Either way, give thanks.

Thanksgiving is celebrated by moving past old situations and into new possibilities. Are you ready?