Beyond the Promised Land

I recently entered the “Promised Land” of my life: I turned 40. Even before I came near this milestone, I appreciated its symbolic resonance with the story of Exodus. Here, you may recall, a Jewish tribe forged in privation completes a 40-year journey to “a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8).

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The passage employs explicitly metaphorical language that clashes with the facts of Jewish history the way a classified ad for a luxury apartment in Manhattan clashes with the experience of living in a roach-infested home. As a tagline for the Land of Israel, “Land of Milk and Honey” sounds like a shameless sales pitch one might hear at a Jerusalem bazaar or a hotel-time-share presentation.

But, as a student of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, I do not indict the Hebrew Scripture, or any mythology, for false advertising, simply because I do not expect accuracy or precision in a work of the collective imagination. Rather, I read the Exodus story as a particular expression of a universal dream, an affirmation of our belief in the possibility of the most radical transformation — from slavery to freedom.

Of course, the idea of freedom hasn’t lost its resonance, and it probably never will, but the modern generation of freedom-seekers can’t sustain its struggle with ancient promises of redemption. As all generations in the past, today we dream new dreams, and we look beyond the idea of the “Promised Land” to the reality of “Life As It Is” in the Here and Now. Unlike its dreamy biblical predecessor, the new vision offers no seductions, except the rewards of radical candor and unvarnished truth.

But I’m not writing this blog post just to delve more deeply into the work of Campbell or Jung or the Exodus story (Sometimes, I just can’t help myself). I mainly write to share a bit of personal news: Inspired by the counsel and support of a dear friend, I’m transplanting myself from New York to the more hospitable soil (for me) of Silicon Valley. For now, I will continue to take on small projects as part of my current consulting practice, but I plan to dedicate the remainder of this year to looking for a full-time job in the Bay Area.

Not sure if San Francisco fits the criteria for the “Land of Milk and Honey”, and I probably won’t arrive at the destination in a dramatic fashion after crossing the parted sea and witnessing the drowning of all my demons. But I am looking forward to this journey, and I welcome job recommendations and networking opportunities.

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