Once a year, a reunion of the 1995 executive committee of an international women’s community service organization meets for dinner, connection and lively conversation. This group of women is impressive; well-educated, seasoned world travelers, varied cultural interests, and all were employed professionals working in a career making a contribution to society. Note: “were employed”; with the exception of me and one other woman, all are retired from full-time employment. During our most recent gathering, the other working member shared her scenario of an unpleasant lay-off she experienced by an organization not to be named. The new leadership and transition of this organization was sloppy to say the least – yet, due to her skills, competency, and capacity, she was highly sought-after and a new job arrived almost immediately.
She said, “This is my last job.” Meaning, this is the last organization I plan to work for before I retire.
During the conversation I asked, “What is a last job?” Though the question may seem obvious, I was very curious. Do we really have a “last job?” Driving home later that night I continued to wonder, and then an answer revealed itself. Our last job is dying.
Did that statement furrow your brow? Take a breath. Let’s quest together down this exploratory pathway, collecting a key to our theme of 2017: impeccable embodied sufficiency. Job is defined below.
Job: the continuous string of activity that we engage – either for pay or pleasure.
Also job: activities of being and/or doing.
Finally, also job: an opportunity, a potential, rather than an obligation or burden.
From this wide vantage point, it’s remarkable to me that every living being has the same last job: to complete this life. Again, pause and take a breath. (Each time I invite you to take a breath, I am taking a breath.) This realization is stunning. In nearly every other walk of life, from politics, to cultures, to generations, to race, to sexuality, to economic status, we exude separateness. This separateness is totally washed away when we engage our last job.
As I contemplate this truth with my head, heart and belly, I notice a rising energy of peace, stillness and spaciousness. With this generous knowing that we are all moving toward the same last job, my ability to see and feel sufficiency expands. I feel connected – my heart shimmering and pulsing. I begin to appreciate every act of contribution from all beings without scrutiny or judgment. I see each and every job as training for the last job.
There are myriad ways – practices and perspectives – to abide in non-separateness or oneness. Make this your aim for a while and notice how much easier it is to activate sufficiency. Sufficiency is the absence of lack (fear, or scarcity, or not enough).
In your present job, recognize that there will be another job. In your wondering, you may realize that retirement, moving from a “paid engagement” to a different situation, will also be a job. Isn’t that fascinating? See what happens when we come from another angle? Those ideas we hold as constant, are shifting. Take another breath.
The jobs most often depicted in careers, abide in human capital. Human capital is the most precious asset we enjoy. Our body is the first, enduring, and last asset we engage directly. Again, take a breath. In our last job of dying, we will not be concerned with our bank account, our home, our tangible assets, or any of the material goods that can occupy much of our time. Eventually, in our last job, we will not be concerned with our precious relationships, except to tenderly love (or regret as the case may be) and to say good-bye. In our last job, we will be focused on our body and the transition to what’s next.
My parents are engaged in their last job, which may continue for a few years. Their bodies are dying. Each visit I notice something else that is declining in their deteriorating bodies. Labored breathing, new aches and pains, skin abrasions, thinning hair, darkening teeth, body odor, limping, slow movement, lack of hearing, and mental confusion are among the many aspects of dying.
Our last job of dying can be long lasting or a brief moment.
Some engage in other activities besides the ones noted above about my parents – so that the job of dying can also be enriched living. Enriched living happens when we are well practiced in awareness and we have accessed our mind and body intelligence… so that even when our physical body systems begin to decline, our life experience remains enriching. Perhaps now is an opportunity to begin a more intentional relationship with your body, to build your soma muscle so that your last job will abide in sufficiency. Why is embodied sufficiency important? In an embodied state of sufficiency, there is an elegant okay-ness that allows for love, connection, openness and peace.
As we recognize our most precious asset, human capital, and we expand our concept of “job” to all activity we engage until our last breath, notice the shift in awareness. What thoughts, feelings and sensations arise in your body? Are you scared or excited? Does your belly quiver with fear and nausea? Does your heart expand with joy bubbles? Notice and embrace. Allow that noticing to be an opening to your next query.
There are no right responses to this curious inquiry. For now, we are looking closer at a seed just planted about “last job.” Whether you just began your first job out of college, or whether you have been gone from active employment for years, consider how remarkable it is that we all eventually die, in this form, through engagement of the same last job.
What would it take for you to strengthen the last job muscle so that you abide in sufficiency well before your last job is over?
Engaging my job, sufficiently, not the last,