Of course not, you say. What a crazy statement. But is it?

How many of us get so seduced by the world of material things that we begin to define ourselves by our roles in life and the things that we accomplish? I have known quite a few people who have fallen into that trap. I know that I have been there….and have been caught up in seeing my importance as being determined by the things that I am “doing”.

It was about five years ago that I retired from my role as Denver’s Regional Administrator with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This was a demanding position with a fair amount of positional responsibility. I was honored to have served in this capacity but also knew that I was being called to move on in life to other experiences. I had only been the fourth person to serve in that position since it was established back in 1977 (my successor, the fifth is currently in the role as I write this). I always recalled with sadness the death of the first person who served as regional administrator with the then Health Care Financing Administration–Frank Ishida–who passed just a short time after retiring. I was lucky to have known and worked with him. He was a happy and caring person for whom I had wished a long and prosperous retirement. The fact that that did not occur always bothered me.

As I served in the role, I began realizing that I was being called to do other things. As I listened to my intuition and announced that I would be leaving in a few months, I went through a “lame duck” period in which I was being brought in on issues less and less. People knew I was leaving so I was simply by-passed on certain matters. By the time I actually left, my daily role had shrunk so much that I was experiencing an unheard of period of “free time”. My to-do list was easily accomplished each day with time to spare.

On the one hand, this sounds good. More free time, who wouldn’t want that? But it came at an interesting psychological cost. I had worked so long and so hard for so many years that I realized that I had come to define my “worth” through what I accomplished. If all of a sudden I was not “accomplishing” anything, then where was my personal “worth”? I have discussed this feeling with others and know that I am not alone in going through this process. I have heard tales of individuals who retired and then did not know what to do with themselves and sank into depression or worse. It is normal to have a period of grieving the loss of the job (even when consciously chosen such as in my case).

I have come to realize all endings come with a period of grief as we internalize the change. Most of us move through that time and then move on into something new. I did that after retiring from CMS, but it was not as easy as I thought it would be. As I have moved on to other things in my life, one of those things has been serving the home office (headquarters) of the Centers for Spiritual Living.

Once again, I have been blessed to have served in a unique role. I have been heavily involved the past three and a half years in the reunification of the two organizations that teach the philosophy of the Science of Mind. Given that they split apart back in the early 1950s –coincidentally around the time I was born — to be involved in their integration has some historical significance that has never been lost on me. However, once again, I have realized it was time to move on to the “next thing” — the next page in my life –the next experience.

As that upcoming change was announced in the past month or so, once again I began moving into the arena of letting go of my to-do list and my positional role. Yet, this time the experience is softer, easier. Yes, I will still go through the normal grief of any ending. But this time, I am feeling within me a sense of wisdom and experience that was not fully developed five years ago. Now, I know better than I knew then that who I am is not defined by any job, any role, any tasks on a list that I feel called to complete.

My worth –like yours– comes from our very state of being. As a spiritual person who is moving through this human third-fourth dimensional experience, it is easy to allow our senses and our egos to seduce us into thinking all of that “stuff out there” is more important than that spiritual essence that is within us. We can get confused and define our value in external terms by our roles, our titles, our money, our accomplishments. Our value comes from none of this. We are all valuable just by virtue of our being born here with that spiritual essence within us–no matter what our outward experience. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have an important role to play within our life time. Yes, we have a calling, a talent, a gift to give the world. Yes, we feel a need to express that talent in some way. Yes, we are given experiences here in our human lives which offer us growth and learning. Our time here on Earth is precious and should be treated with deep appreciation. Yet, who we truly are is so much more than our worldly experiences.

Love and blessings,

Mark Gilbert


Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!