Ah, just like old times: blogging on consecutive days. Seriously, though, after yesterday’s post I’m keen to keep at this question of what sorts of things I can do now—not later, now—that both I and my bank account would find fulfilling.
What I really want to do is spend my days reading, writing, networking and otherwise advocating for CASE. For years I’ve been longing for this to be the focus of my working life, not crammed into the odd margins of evenings and weekends. I want to build CASE into an active clearinghouse and catalyst, bringing people and ideas together to support the cause of Sudbury schooling.
As the executive director, I want to spend hours and hours each week cultivating CASE’s online presence: posting content (and moderating user-generated content), as well as seeking opportunities to comment on external sites. I want to secure funding, brainstorm new forms of collaboration, and pursue additional strategies for marketing the Sudbury model to an ever-growing audience. I want to see more people aware of, talking about, and working together to raise the profile of Sudbury schooling.
Yet the obstacle of startup funding remains. My intention has been to use the savings I accumulated over the past few years to lay the groundwork, put things in place to which I could refer potential donors. However, I’m currently overextended with staffing at Clearview, as well as choir and Zen activities. So there’s one problem. There are also the mysteries of how much infrastructure to create before seeking donors, and where to look for these people.
With my board members and collaborators very busy and geographically dispersed, the rate of CASE’s development remains much slower than I’d like. And my Sudbury colleagues and counterparts are unlikely to become less busy—indeed, one of my main motivations in launching CASE was the realization that Sudbury advocates are typically too busy to attend to all that could (and needs to) be done.
So I understand that CASE may not yet (or even soon) be in a position to support full-time, paid work. In general, the sort of work I find most engaging and worthwhile—passion-driven, world-changing, and all-around empowering—seems rather difficult to find, create, fund, and sustain. Given all this, I need to consider how I might supplement my CASE activities with non-Sudbury jobs that suit my talents, interests, and personality.
I suppose I could fill in some of these gaps with tutoring: this gave me reasonably lucrative support back when I was launching my teaching career. If I got a second Master’s, I could look for adjunct teaching jobs at the community college level. However, at this stage of my life “relatively unobjectionable” is not a criterion I want to apply to a job search. No, as much as possible I want to spend my days immersed in mission, focused squarely on manifesting my inner, core purpose instead of scrounging for paying jobs I don’t dislike very much.
Outside of education, the fields I feel most called to would probably be environmental and other political causes. As I said yesterday, I feel a visceral pull toward windmill-tilting and crusading. So I could easily see myself happily fighting the good fight for sustainable living, poverty relief, or political reform (e.g., campaign finance). With life-enhancing or habitat-preserving work that allows me to make ends meet, I wouldn’t have to wonder why I was doing it. If I felt empowered to spread compassion and reduce suffering, to change the way people see and think, I would revel in truly living with purpose.
On other fronts, perhaps my deepening interest and involvement in Zen could connect me with paying work (e.g., writing, teaching, organization-building). Or as much as I love reading and writing, libraries and bookstores could be viable options. In fact, one of my longest-standing schemes is a combination bookstore and community center, a place where people could not only shop and read, but gather to discuss and organize on the issues of the day.
Speaking of my passions, obviously a job with writing would be ideal. When I’m wordsmithing, crafting arguments, looking for the most artful way of expressing thoughts, it’s not uncommon for me to lose myself in my work (in a good way, that is). To some degree, it doesn’t even matter too much what I’m writing, as my passion for the activity itself can be surprisingly fulfilling. Drawing from the work of Sir Ken Robinson, this is Flow, that magical place where passion and talent meet.
What, then, if I combined my passion for the written word and my drive to make a difference in a context where I help call the shots? In other words, what if I started a small business that specialized in writing, editing, and consulting for organizations and causes I support? What if I called it Write Livelihood—could this work? Could I find enough clients to make this a viable supplement to my Sudbury pursuits?
If nothing else, Write Livelihood seems infinitely more exciting and compelling than the prospect of some non-demanding, relatively innocuous desk job with the state government or a local college or university.
Passion, purpose, meaning; a life of empowerment and possibilities, enthusiasm and exhilaration. This is the work I crave, the opportunity I want to create for myself and others.