The dust is finally starting to settle on a very big life-change I’ve made, finally giving me a window of time, and peace, so I can share this catch-up with you.
Here’s the story. I had come to a point in my life in which I’ve needed to change the way I work somehow. Even to change the place where I live. It would take me too long to tell you all the ins and outs of that decision. Suffice to say, it was not made casually or quickly. I felt a growing thirst for a pause, after close to 30 years as a therapist. A time to retreat, to spend more time inside, to listen more deeply. To dare make an empty space, to wait … and let Life tell me how It wants me to refill this space.
Modern culture is bereft of rituals to mark key rites of passage. I have no guide for this milestone, at least not one that I can clearly recognize. From somewhere deep in the mist of my ancestral past, I hear the word … Sabbatical. I know so little about what that’s meant to signify, but even without ancient ones to show me the steps, I must fumble on and find my own path. Time. Giving-in to the unknown.
In more specific terms, I have paused my private practice – my principal work as a psychologist – for twelve months. Twelve new moons in which to be remade. To be exact: though I won’t be seeing clients during that time, I will continue to run some of my courses and workshops. To look for better ways to express my ideas and passions in writing. And of course, to play more music. I wasn’t seeking a rest stop, so much as an open field; to let go of the familiar clock, in order to allow more creative muses to come through. And to let Life reshape me, teach me new things and deepen my vision before I return to my practice. To undergo a little death and so to make room for a rebirth.
I hope to get to know my own creative voice more intimately during this Sabbatical, this venture both sacred and profane, profound and flippant.
“Life, Deeper Self: show me what I need to know next, write Your message more clearly in my mind, so I can reflect You more truly”.
I’m not sitting cross-legged in a cave, by the way. And as you can see I haven’t chucked my devices in a recycling bin. I’m not shutting out dialogue. I am just changing the way I dialogue, shifting my manner of engagement with you, my tribe.
One of my main quests is to shrug off conditioned, habitual and tired old approaches to the usual mundane tasks, you know, the old ‘chop wood and carry water’. I’m trying to learn how to let driven-ness and compulsion be replaced with Flow. A little more grace, more dance in my way of doing things. How to set aside the ancestral burden of schedules and obligations to make room for a more spontaneous, more organic and more personal way to express, to create, to serve. To reclaim more of the playfulness that is, for all of us, our birthright. The cosmic naughtiness of the spirit.
I guess I am trying to peel off more layers of my schooling. Little by little. Let’s see how far I can get with that quest!
My practice was not the only thing I’ve let go of. I’ve also left home. Linda and I have sold our family home, where we raised our daughter, made our family and broke bread with neighbours for 24 years. Avalon Beach was perhaps the first place where I felt I belonged – it was our town and we were badged as locals. We are nomads for now, wandering gypsies. One banjo, one guitar – and my best kitchen knives in a leather roll. Unknowing where to settle next, as we begin our long journey to find a new ‘promised land’. Where to set new roots? This feels like such an overwhelming question right now. That’s what the next 12 months are about. And to tell the truth, I’m feeling a little lost.
Pangs of homesickness and regret rush up sometimes. At night, mostly. A sinking feeling that I can’t easily reach out to my dear neighbourhood friends for a coffee. The horizon is compelling, thrilling – but also lonely. I mourn the close of a beautiful season of family; a gorgeous time growing together as a close-knit trio. Saying goodbye to our eco-house, our majestic Angophora trees, the frog-pond I built with Yaramin when she was three… An old identity dies. If I am not an Avalonian, who am I? Where do I fit in? I’m not used to feeling uprooted, it’s such a strange sensation.
I’ve lived in Sydney since I was 10 years old. Over half a century, Sydney worked its hills, its waterways, its surprising nooks, mysteries and stories around me and right through me.
Uncoupling from my home town is like tearing off a bandage. A part of me screams, startled, wanting to run ‘home’. And yet, the strange beauty of our present encampment is intoxicating. The birdsong and frog calls are so different at each place. We wake to an alien soundscape.
Our trek prompts me to think about all migrants. The immeasurable challenges and incomparable thrills people have faced since time immemorial. We, our parents, our forebears have always been on the move. Always called to a new horizon, over that ridge, across that sea. Few have remained still for long (for my Spanish-speaking friends, this music video says it so well). I was 9 years old when, flanked by my Mum, Dad and brother Alan, I boarded a French airliner, somewhat shocked by the overwhelming reality of leaving South America for a new world, new people, a foreign tongue. The feelings I could not contain in that small body, I feel more keenly today. The anguish of an irreversible leap, mixed with heady anticipation. What surprises were awaiting us in new lands? I am glad to be facing these emotions more fully today. Paradoxically, though my feet have left home, a part of my inner child is returning home to me.
Despite the upheaval and turbulence, I’m really glad we have taken this risk. I won’t be left forever wondering what it might have been like. As with every leap, we have entered the unfamiliar, become willingly lost, abandoned what was cosy. With so many references and tethers gone, this moment feels like an earth-tremor – but it feels alive! Liberating. And I wonder: is freedom always the counterpoint to security? I’m curious about your experience: have you felt these things? What does ‘home’ mean to you? Is ‘home’ about place? About people? Is it a sanctuary inside you? What have you learned, from leaving your home behind? Or when you’ve disrobed from an old identity? I would welcome snapshots of your experience.
I’m grateful for modern communications. I can still connect, wherever I am. Today, the feeling of geography and distance is unlike anything in our genetic archives. Distance has morphed into a whole new concept and experience.
As my partner Linda and I travel about, I want occasionally to share my musings, learnings, ideas and preoccupations with all who wish to listen; perhaps you’ll want to check my posts from time to time – I hope you might. I’m nostalgic and I miss people when I leave. My friends, family and neighbours matter immensely and the people I have worked with remain often in my thoughts.
So here are a few things you could look for, if you are so inclined. I have a few projects in mind that I feel very excited about. I’ll be running a number of online courses, stay tuned. I’ll continue to be posting about empowering and uplifting social-evolutionary news. And here’s my favourite bit: soon, I will begin producing a series of short videos – called: ‘Vox Cordis little films’ – with inspiring ideas, philosophical musings, paradigm-shifting propositions, challenges for personal growth, relationship and parenting tips, news, evolutionary prospects. Sometimes personal, sometimes planetary. Themes will vary according to what’s cooking in my heart at the time. Sometimes, it might just be a review of a book or movie that has moved me, that I think might help our collective striving for a better world. Your comments, questions and suggestions will be welcome.
If you have read any of my works, listened to any of my podcast interviews or watched any of my videos, you’ll know my deepest driving belief: that as we bring more empathy to childrearing and education, we transform societies for the better. By changing childhood, we evolve into an ecologically harmonious humanity. For me, the personal, the social and the political are inseparable – every interaction is a vote, and peace begins at home. All actions ripple, all voices matter, everyone counts, every love is an activism.
So please check-in, I would love to hear from you. You can visit this blog, and you can subscribe to receive updates (see the home page). Alternatively, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram. Looking forward to hearing from you!
So lovely to hear from you and how you’re going – you write so well Robin
Thank you Sarah!
So you did it Robin! Last we spoke (pre Covid) we mooted catching up over a coffee in Av for a discussion about ‘the expat experience’. Your thoughts at the time were on heading to South America. I figured you’d deferred plans since international borders closed. (Plus I keep seeing your little car around town – did you sell it to local?) So destiny called it seems. I shall look forward to your musings and future works from a new creative space. Take care and keep us posted.
I’m glad our dear old Mazda, with its one blue door, is still putt-putting around Avalon! Thanks for your report, Lani.
And yes, we gifted it to one of the Argentine backpackers. He was ecstatic. Of course, or original plan to live in Uruguay for a while was Covidded right off the white-board. We eagerly await open borders – as does the rest of the world.