It was three days before I was supposed to submit the final (final, final, final) version of my thesis in early February (and by final, I mean that I’d run out of time for further revisions, so it really had to be final. For now. Until I write the book).
I received a brief message from an acquaintance in the permaculture community: “I follow this blog. He reminds me of what you’re doing. Check it out. www.RightLivelihoodQuest.com.”
Seriously? How come I had never come across this before in all my prior research?
Once I visited the website, I was completely blown away by the similarities – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say synchronicities – between the Meaningful Work Project, and my graduate thesis entitled “The Quest for Meaningful Work” and “The Right Livelihood Quest“.
I found Simon Goland, who describes himself as “an Educator, a Facilitator of Learning, an Organizational Development Specialist, and a Coach â€“ all rolled into one.” True to his multi-dimensional biography, Simon combines his eclectic career and personal experiences to guide participants in a process of seeking the very core of our right livelihood, the deep-seated underlying themes that compel us in our lives to both be of service to the world, and contribute to our own personal growth, learning and development.
Picking up on the work of Gregg Levoy in his book Callings, Simon discusses the power of “the call” to launch us on a quest for that right livelihood.
On the Right Livelihood Quest website, he writes:
“You might not even be able to clearly articulate this call, yet you know and sense that something is ready to be born. To emerge. You just know. A change is coming, whether you know where it might be taking you or not.Â
TheÂ Right Livelihood Quest is such aÂ journey. It takes 4 weeks, combining guided individual inquiry and experiences with a weekend-long retreat at the end, with a small group of like-hearted and like-minded others.
And by the end of this journey, you will be transformed.”
As I eagerly scanned the website, I found more clues to Simon’s perspective and the similarities in approach and background to my work. Simon developed an educational approach which incorporates a number of different perspectives including ecopsychology, living systems theory, and his understanding on the limitations and possible expansion beyond the concept of communities of practice. Simon defines right livelihood as follows:
“Right LivelihoodÂ means expressing your Life Purpose through your work and your life. It means knowing who you are, why you are here â€“ in the biggest possible scope â€“ and aligning your life to your vocation, purpose, and values. It is a journey of ongoing refinement of your calling, self-expression, meaning, and contribution.”
What did this mean for my thesis? With only a few days to go before final submission, I only had enough time to add his website and a reference to his work to the addendum of the document, recognizing that my research would have to continue beyond the scope of my thesis. Clearly, I needed more time to further compare our research and inquire into opportunities for future information exchange and collaboration.
To say that I liked what I saw in Simon’s work would be a gross understatement. He was able to articulate many of the ideas I had grasped at and found elusive and tenuous for the past three years. He could eloquently express some of the ideas I had only begun to explore, that still hung on the tip of my tongue that I sought to link to the larger systemic issues afflicting our economy, society and environment. I saw the valuing of language and dialogue, and references to the Art of Hosting. I was so elated to find someone who spoke my language.
Actually, quite literally.
I also found out that Simon and I have a similar cultural background, and both speak Russian as our first language. And have relatives in Israel. And immigrated to Canada in the same year.
Oh, and he did his MA at Royal Roads University too. Just in a different faculty.
And of course the synchronicities kept coming. The next workshop he was hosting would be on Whidbey Island, in Washington State, at the end of March, a time when the blossoming West Coast in springtime gloriously emerges from their mild winter.
I had visited this magical island – and stayed at a retreat centre a mere 20 minute walk away – was where I had recently attended The Self as the Source of Story, another absolutely transformative workshop just 3 months prior with Christina Baldwin. (I wrote about that experience in a recent blog post).
And it was the week before my 29th birthday.
This was one of those times where I could not ignore all the signs and messages. The message from the universe was clear: just listen to it. And so I decided to go. And see what the Right Livelihood Quest was all about.
And so my own quest, the quest for meaningful work. Or right livelihood. Or whatever you want to call it continues.With still more input and insight from a fellow seeker who has walked this path of hosting, facilitating, teaching and encouraging the journey toward right livelihood for far longer than I, and who has gleaned immense wisdom as a result.
I’ve been sensing that something new was about to be born, to emerge for quite some time. First it was the initial iteration of the Meaningful Work Retreat. Then it was my graduate thesis. And now…there is something else coming. Something new that builds on all of the learning and inspiration of the past three years, added to, and enriched by, encounters with the most wonderful, soulful and supportive people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Simon is one of them. He adds to the big pot of stew that I’ve been cooking steadily on low heat for these three years. More and more rich ingredients keep simmering in there. But it’s not boiling over yet. The path forward is still unclear.
More to come about the journey as it unfolds.