It is a wine and cheese reception, following a graduation ceremony of yet another group of students and change agents who just finished their MBA with Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Brent, who just finished the first of his two years, and I are talking about our summer plans. He says that he doesn’t want to disconnect for the summer, and instead, really wants to dig deep into his right livelihood – his life purpose – because this is why he came to the school to begin with, and this is what he wants to align his second year of studies to. I offer my support and invite him to stay in contact during the summer; have conversations, ask questions, recommend readings and resources. After all, I have been doing this work for a long time, and am more than happy to support another person on this journey into one of the essential inquiries we humans have been undertaking for millennia: “Why am I here really?”
“Wouldn’t it be cool to gather a group of people and spend a weekend camping somewhere here, in the Pacific Northwest, while doing a deep dive into this topic of right livelihood?” he says.
“Sure. I love the idea, and would be up for something like that,” I reply. “Why don’t you send a word and see what interest we have, as well as possible locations.”
The whole conversation took about 15 minutes and we parted ways. Didn’t even finish the glasses of wine we were holding. Later that night, Sunday, Brent sent an email to some current and past students of Bainbridge Graduate Institute. By the following Thursday, we had about 43 people who expressed interest, a Google group to organize it all, and 3 different possible location. By the weekend, the number of people climbed to about 60, I said “Yes” to 2 locations and 2 groups, and the Right Livelihood Quest was born.
There is a story about a woman at an exhibit of Picasso. She is standing in front of a painting, when she notices the artist standing beside her. “How long did it take you to paint this painting?” she asks. “About an hour,” comes the reply. “And all my life.”
My beloved and I have talked about the idea of an easy and effortless life recently, contemplating the juicy thought of aligning our lives to such perspective and approach. We thought of the times such beautiful and friendly ease found its way into our lives and whatever needed to happen, happened seemingly effortlessly. We “just” needed to be present, open, and trusting that there is a bigger wisdom at play.
There was no need to struggle or force things into existence ahead of their time. There was no need to strategize endlessly, to over-plan, to agonize over “this” or “that” and try and figure out whether the timing is right and the action is even required to begin with.
When I forget about this approach, life becomes very different. It usually happens more when I have various simultaneous projects, all asking for my immediate attention and I shift into my “control mode” of engaging my will power. Life becomes hard work, and my level of joy diminishes. I am also a lot less fun to be around then. Eventually, it ends up with a wake up call, though I’d also like to say that I am becoming more adept at recognizing such rabbit holes, and, on occasion, even pulling myself out ahead of a painful reminder that is inevitably just around the corner.
Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings. – Rumi
Easy does not mean doing nothing, sitting on a purple meditation cushion and wrapped with an orange sarong (incidentally, I actually have both), waiting for the Universe to bring it all to you on a silver platter. Perhaps it means staying present and open, knowing who is responsible for what. We are responsible for our inner work, for preparing ourselves to be open, for surrendering to the greater mystery around us, and receiving that which was delegated to the Universe. She will do it on her own timing that might be different from ours.
Yet, it will always be the right time.