Have you ever stopped to think about all the turning points in your life? What would your life have looked like, for instance, if you’d married x instead of y? What if you hadn’t gone to law school, as your parents wanted, but had instead become a musician? Or, what if you hadn’t started dating that one particular guy and gotten pregnant at the age of 18? How would your life have been different?
A friend of mine recently applied for a job and was one of the final two candidates to be considered. I told her that I had a strong feeling that if she wanted the job, she would get it; and if she were ambivalent, she would not. Recently she found out she got the job. She told me that my words helped her to focus her energy and claim the position as hers.
Why did I have this particular bit of intuition to offer her? Because I had been in a similar position eight years ago.
Eight years ago a good friend told me about an opening for a hospice chaplain affiliated with the more than 200-bed hospital in my home town. When she first told me about it, I felt an immediate instinctive “no,” that it wasn’t the right time to take on this job. You see I had just, a scant three months before, received a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer. Because it was early stage, I opted to go for minimal treatment–just a lumpectomy and a change in diet and lifestyle. However I was still reeling from this metaphysical shock to my system, and I was also recovering from the double-whammy of caring for both parents while simultaneously working as a part-time chaplain in a New Jersey hospice. I had been rather stretched and stressed to handle all that responsibility, and my self-care had suffered greatly. Everything in me simply wanted to rest for a while. However, I had also been mostly unemployed for almost five months and I badly needed income. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll apply.
Because I was feeling rather ambivalent about the whole thing, happy for it to go either way, I went into the interview process very relaxed, with little to no stress. As a result, I did very well. After a week or two of interviews, it was down to me and one other candidate. Finally the decision was made. I was told that the staff were pretty much split down the middle–50/50. It could’ve gone either way.
I know I didn’t get the job because I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on a full-time job at that time in my life. The Universe was simply giving me what I wanted. And… this morning, eight years later, I find myself thinking, What would have been different if I had taken that job?
It would have been a rather nice feather in my cap career-wise–certainly the best job of my adult life from a traditional point of view. And it would have been interesting serving a population of people I was familiar with. No doubt over the course of the following few years I would have had the privilege of counseling many people I knew, having lived in that particular area for several decades. It would also have been a really good experience to have had that much responsibility and to have been of service to so many people.
On the other hand, had I taken that job, I might never have had the experience of living in a wildly beautiful mountain town in rural Colorado. I might never have spent so much time near a sacred mountain in northern California. I certainly wouldn’t have met the interesting people I’d met, been exposed to such such fascinating spiritual paths, nor grown so radically in my own spiritual path. Nor would I have launched myself so determinedly onto my writing career path.
Or maybe I would have! Maybe I would have worked for a few years at this particular hospital, serving hundreds of clients, and then with the money I’d saved, bought some kind of motor home and traveled across the country, landing in the very same towns, and meeting the very same people.
I believe our soul chooses to have certain experiences prior to being born. I believe our soul knows what lessons it needs to learn and so it decides ahead of time, with the help of certain teachers and guides, what would be the optimal experiences for maximum growth in this lifetime. Based on this belief system, we will all experience what we came here to experience regardless of our conscious decisions. We will meet the people we came here to meet. We will live in the places we chose to live in.
But what we learn is always up to us.
Wherever we are, whatever we do, whomever we’re with, what we learn from it all is up to us. The turning points are practically irrelevant. Everything is a learning experience. Everything!