Over the past year I have made it my purpose in life to really engage the paradox of choice as a personal companion on my life’s journey. I resigned from a very fulfilling professional practice of pastoral care and counseling in a healthcare system to be re-engaged with my family. For me, this was going to be paradise and I would be Living the Dream. We sold nearly everything we had, down-sized from a large farm house on 500 acres to a suburban setting on the coast of Florida. I wake everyday to the warm, southern sunshine of the Space Coast and spend several hours engaged in . . . nothing – no cell phone or pager, no meetings or appointments, no crisis to manage, no tragedy to address – nothing but the choice to take time off from an exhausting career.
Most of my days are spent at pool-side listening to the fountain, neighborhood lawn mowers, and the train as it passes by several times a day. I read, write, and reflect in the solitude of the quiet I have so valued in my busy career. I surf the net, write a blog or two, and respond to many of the posts on Fast Company’s site. I prepare dinner for my wife and family while watching Food Network Cooking Shows. And enjoy dinner nearly every evening with my wife and family – something that was not always valued in my earlier career choices.
My time has been productive in the sense of my profession as a cleric and I’ve managed to do an online graduate certificate in healthcare ethics in my free time. What’s interesting, though, is that in the solitude of my choice to take an extended vacation the paradox of choice has presented a number of challenges to my traditional way of thinking. In particular, my profession has been as demanding as it has been generous. My time has always been compensated at a level most clerics envy and my assignments have generally been plums. And after nearly a year of Living the Dream, I find the paradox of seeking employment echoing those famous words from the Psalms and the Prophets that asks, “How do I sing the Lord’s song in a new land?”
My choice to return to the work force has presented me with a new paradox I hadn’t suspected in this foreign land – Singing the Lord’s song to strangers. Now to be sure, the delivery of pastoral care and counseling in a healthcare setting is generally on my terms and on my turf. Guests in the hospitals I’ve served were guests in my “house” and there is a certain security in being the “Spiritual Leader.” Being a free agent and returning to the work force to offer my services to prospective employers finds me working with that paradox of choice from a new perspective – namely that of prospective employers. Now I am the guest waiting to be invited into the Inner Circle of Healthcare’s Leadership as “The” Spiritual Leader. I offer this series of posts as my Living the Dream experience begins to awaken from a well-deserved vacation. I love paradox and I hope you will enjoy these posts and the challenges I have encountered by being paradoxical.