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    Sanford Baran:  I am most thankful for everyone who has dialed-in this morning. This is not something that should be taken for granted as there are so many other things we all could be doing right now. Of course, wherever we happen to be, there always is opportunity to allow right Spirit to be expressed into those circumstances. In any event here we are now—each one having consciously decided to be here. In choosing to come together we each bring considerable spiritual expertise to the table—based in our orientation in the Truth along with our willingness and ability to practically articulate this in our moment-to-moment living. This is no small thing—such resonant expression provides a significant integrating influence, extending a healing current and point of sanity into a very troubled and conflicted world. So, coming together this morning we can merge this rich pool of individual experience and substance, build on it and allow it to be freely released to further fuel the ongoing processes of creation. There is no need to be too concerned about how it ultimately all gets used—we can totally trust that Spirit will utilize it to optimal advantage, delivering the greatest benefit and blessing to the whole.

    I've recently had a change in my life situation which has been most interesting. I am now officially retired, having left the work-a-day world and on to other things. Now, as far as employment goes, each one of us already has a very specific and important job to do. That job is to express the highest and noblest qualities of character in every aspect of our living. So, in that respect I still am very much gainfully employed, it's just that the circumstances of where I show up for work these days is now very different. As an aside, in the restored state, unemployment and job displacement are really not a concern. There is a job for everyone. Full employment is absolutely guaranteed.

    As you might expect this change in work status has allowed me to focus more of my energies on other interests, some already in progress. It also has created the space to explore totally new and uncharted territory. My official last day of work was only a few weeks ago, so I'm really just getting started. But I thought it might be interesting to look at how things have unfolded so far, as there have been a few twists and turns along the way. It's been fascinating to observe the various cycles at play—one cycle reaching a point of conclusion, another cycle changing course midstream and finally a brand new cycle just beginning. In each case, what has transpired has been delightfully surprising.

    Looking back, it was January of 2016 when I set my first target retirement date, which I thought would happen in August on my 66th birthday. Then for various reasons, I moved the target date out to the end of December and then changed it again to the end of January of this year. I was finding that once you set a retirement date in your head, it really becomes challenging to stay motivated, particularly as you begin to count-down the months and the weeks. So, extra effort was required to not give-in to this, but continue to focus on doing a good job. One thing I did feel was necessary was to keep my retirement decision quiet and not let people at the office know of my plans until maybe a month before my departure. In my experience, it's generally been best to keep one's counsel at the workplace because as the saying goes, lose lips sink ships.

    The months gradually began to pick up speed, and just before Christmas I felt the time was right to inform my boss of my plans, giving him about five weeks' notice. One thing we did discuss was the possibility of me going part time instead of full-blown retirement. He advised me to continue to keep things under wraps while the various factors were sorting themselves out. So, in my mind, I would either be gone by the end of January or maybe I would be transitioning to part time work.

    But it was getting a bit uncomfortable having to keep this all quiet—working on projects with various people and not being able to give them a heads-up that I might be leaving soon. So, a week and a half before the end of January I was taking the light rail down to work, still not sure how things are going to work out. On the train, I receive a text from my boss—can he meet me at my stop—he needed to talk to me and he didn't want to do it at the office. I was intrigued. So, he meets me at the station, we drive to a coffee shop, and he tells me that a small layoff is imminent and that I could become part of that layoff. Now normally, most people don't want to be laid off. But in my case since I was leaving anyway, being laid off would mean that I would be eligible for severance—and because of my tenure with the company, this would amount to nearly a half a year's salary! So, I was being offered an incredible unexpected gift which couldn't have happened had I publicly announced my retirement earlier-on or had I decided to leave slightly sooner. I also was particularly moved that my boss and other managers at the company were purposely making this happen for me, which they didn't have to do. But actually, from management's perspective having me be part of the layoff would have other positive ramifications. It would mean that some other employee who wanted to stay and who management wanted to stay could stay.

    However, there was a slight catch—when would this layoff happen? I was told sooner rather than later, but would that be a month, three months, the summer? Also, my knowledge of the impending layoff needed to be kept strictly confidential, to avoid unnecessary staff disruption. So, I still was not allowed to tell anyone yet.

    We now were into February and the weeks were going by and I knew retirement was on the horizon, but there still was no indication as to when. The uncertainty of it all started to feel a bit unsettling. Then finally on Monday February 27th, I was summoned to the Human Resources office and formally told that because of the current financial conditions of the company, there would be a change to my employment status. My last day of work would be on March 30. It was really kind of funny. I knew I was supposed to react somewhat solemnly to the news, but internally I was singing "Hallelujah!" I left work early that afternoon and on my train-ride home, I texted Linda, "Good news... I've just been laid off!"

    Now finally I could talk openly to my colleagues, and gracefully begin my period of transition during my remaining days in March. This gave me time to nicely finish-up what was on my plate, and I could also work with the folks who would be taking my place to bring them up-to-speed on what I was working-on. Importantly I was now able to drop-in on various ones, and bring to closure all that we had shared over the years. Much goodwill and many best wishes for the future were exchanged. It all felt very complete and clean and I was most thankful that this cycle in my life had come to such an orderly and fulfilling conclusion. One final note—I very much wanted to throw my own retirement party, so just this last Friday I had the team over to the house for lunch, a hike and then out for some drinks. I can report that a good time was had by all. Factoring-in the party, I guess you could say that the cycle really came to a point of completion on April 14th, a far cry from my original target of the previous August.

    In the meantime, as my work cycle was winding down, other cycles have been starting to get re-invigorated. As some of you might know I've been faithfully taking piano lessons for a number of years now, but trying to make progress at this while working full time has been a challenge. Coming home after a full day at the office, I often didn't have the energy or focus to put in the effort required to make much progress. I guess the reason that I still was taking lessons was to keep myself in a holding pattern, until that time when I would be able to devote myself to developing greater mastery and competence. So now that time has come, but I realized I needed to relinquish some old habits and be open to new patterns of discipline and practice. So, I recently told my teacher, no more excuses, I want to be treated like her other students and take what I was doing more seriously. She agreed and I'm now off to a fresh start. What this has meant is for me to get back to basics. The fact is, unless the fundamentals are in place, it's very difficult to significantly improve and make progress. Consequently, I now am incorporating into my practice routine some very basic fingering and sight reading exercises. These are not the most fun things to work on, but I know that as these improve, my overall ability to tackle the kinds of pieces that I want to be able to play will improve and hopefully can be learned more quickly and efficiently. The fact is, even the greatest pianists always make time to practice the basics. I think this principle of getting back to basics has real applicability in our moment-to-moment living. Once we have significantly committed to orienting to what is True, we are in position to tackle whatever it is that comes our way regardless of difficulty. But it really helps if we've done our homework—making a concerted effort to practice the basics in the seemingly small and mundane things that we routinely encounter in our everyday circumstances. I can definitively say that this small shift in attitude has already made a tremendous difference.

    Finally, I wanted to share with you a brand-new cycle opening-up in my world—taking me into uncharted territory. Here in Boulder there is an independent non-commercial community radio station, KGNU (FM 88.5 Denver, Boulder & Ft. Collins), that is quite interesting and free form. I have been a regular listener to their Saturday morning bluegrass show which is quite excellent. At other times when you tune in you never know what they might be playing. To give you a flavor for the station let me read you their mission statement. "We seek to stimulate, educate and entertain our audience, to reflect the diversity of the local and world community, and to provide a channel for individuals, groups, issues and music that have been overlooked, suppressed or under-represented by other media." That really sounded interesting! Well last November I stopped by the station and asked how I could possibly get involved, not really having any notion of what that might be. I then attended a volunteers' orientation meeting in January where they described all the different ways to participate, including going on the air. The man giving the orientation said, "you have no idea how easy it is to get on the air here if you really want to." Now honestly, going on the air was not something that had even occurred to me, but then I thought why not. So as of February, I've taken the Radio Training Class where I've learned how to use the studio. I've gone into the studio several times to practice and I've created a demo tape and submitted it to the music director. He got back to me, told me the demo sounds good and I recently took the Radio Finishing Class which essentially certifies me to go on the air. So, guess what… I'm going on the air. All new DJs cut their teeth on the 3:00 to 5:30 AM program called "Restless Mornings". My first broadcast is on Tuesday morning April 25th at 3 AM Mountain time. I'll see what it's like once I do it, but my gut feeling is that this is an incredibly creative opportunity right up my alley. By the way I'm not expecting any of you to tune in, however if you do happen to be up at that time and find that you are having trouble sleeping, give it try. I absolutely guarantee that the music will be unique and interesting. (Listen to Sanford's very first broadcast — Restless Mornings April 25, 2017)

    So, whether you still are part of the work force or are officially retired, life is one amazing adventure. Moving in the current of the Spirit there is no lack of creative work that comes our way. There absolutely is a job, in fact many jobs for everyone—full employment guaranteed. We are blessed with such abundant opportunity.

    To end my presentation, I wanted to read a few verses from the poem "Passage to India" by Walt Whitman. I received this poem from Alan and Jean Hammond, at a retirement party that they recently hosted for me. These magnificent words harken us to rise up and surrender to the great journey that is in store for everyone, if only we would choose to do so.

O soul, repressless, I with thee, and thou with me,
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin;
Of man, the voyage of his mind's return,
To reason's early paradise,
Back, back to wisdom's birth, to innocent intuitions,
Again with fair Creation.

O we can wait no longer!
We too take ship, O soul!
Joyous, we too launch out on trackless seas!
Fearless, for unknown shores, on waves of ecstasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds,
(thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul),
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration
...
Away, O soul! Hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell'd here long enough,
Eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken'd and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! Steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul exploring, I with thee and thou with me:
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!


April 16, 2017

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