Tuesday, February 28, 2012

vocation or calling?

i had a good bit of craic yesterday with a friend on the topic of finding one's vocation. vocation, that's a big word, isn't it? sure a guy like the pope or someone like mother theresa has a vocation, or a calling, but an everyday person? hmm, i wonder if we modern humans find our vocation these days. or if we don't flit too much from one thing to another with our short attention spans to take the time to find out what our vocation might be. would we even recognize our vocation if we saw it? or are we too busy looking to the next thing to even notice it?

i've had moments of feeling that i found my vocation - but what i think they really may have been were moments of flow.  intense concentration in a library, writing when the hours melt away, the words just come and you look up and can't believe how much time has passed. sewing the seams of a quilt. flurries of productivity on a long-haul flight. giving a presentation where you're suddenly aware that it's going well and you can kind of stand apart from yourself and watch. but does it all add up to a vocation? so far, it hasn't, as i'm still not sure what i want to be when i grow up. i've ruled out a few things (after trying some of them for far too long), but the field is still pretty wide open. i'm trying to learn to place myself in those situations where i will feel that feeling of flow, because a vocation has to be related to that. but i think it's hard to sustain.

have you found your vocation? did you follow it? do you even think it exists outside of the vatican?


will said...

The best advice ever given to me .... Try doing many things, eventually there's one thing which is returned to ... and most likely it's what you want to do.

I followed that advice and, after many adventures, found my calling, something totally unexpected but undoubtedly the product of my curiosity.

Lost Star said...

I'm at a loss as to 'vocation.' People always ask me what I want to do in life; what I want to be. I'm at a loss as to what to tell them, as I haven't stumbled across this elusive thing yet. I guess right now I'm flitting across different things, making, or not making, choices.

I think more often than not though this term refers to ones work. In schools, you picked a vocation. Kind of like your career.

Although I can see it applying beyond that. When you love something enough to take it on as a 'vocation,' I suppose you would want to do it all the time? Like if you want to be Pope. You have to be pretty enthusiastic as a religious guy right? All the time. No break from religion there.

JeannetteLS said...

I think that many of us who were not raised in the Catholic Church never thought of vocation as a calling, just a job or career direction. I realize the derivation of the word goes to calling. Only last month my own church talked about this very thing--the notion of calling in the spiritual sense.

I look at my long and checkered, zig-zaggy past, but two threads leap out and entwine: nonprofit work and writing. I have always done one or the other, and my nonprofit bent was related to training and education. I have been called to tutor, to work with people to move toward a goal... and to use my writing to do it. I felt writing has always called to me, one way or another--to process what life did to me and I to it, to process confusion, to persuade others to a course of action I cared about, to explain.

I am not sure whether painting is a calling as well, or just a way to celebrate from my heart when words are not enough or are too much. I cannot tell.

My dad said much of what Bill wrote. In the seventies he said that the days of a thirty-five year career in one company are mostly over. That I might have many jobs, but that at some point, there would be a pull from one or more and that, if I allowed myself to listen, I would find the ways to unite those pulls.

Perhaps that is vocation.

julochka said...

I should note that I'm not catholic, it just strikes me that priests and nuns are ones who consistently state that they have a calling or a vocation. or perhaps I'm affected by reading Cadfael

celkalee said...

Just when I had planned to lapse into a mental fog for the rest of the day, you had to make me think. While the word "vocation" in my experience usually referred to Christian callings, nuns, priests etc., I remembered that a local high school used to be referred to as a "Vocational School." It was essentially a trade school for those students who were not going on the college. They taught the basics of mechanics, carpentry, secretarial skills etc.

The definition to me is one that describes any activity or profession for which one is uniquely qualified. For example, I have a dear friend who "knew" at about age 8 or 9 that he wanted to be a doctor. Now, at age 58, has has been practicing medicine for many years. He is very good at it, it is a vocation. Another friend felt that her vocation was to be the best stay-at-home Mother she could be. She had 6 children, one child did not survive infancy, another has cerebral palsy. The other four are accomplished. One is a successful patent attorney, two are nurses, one a teacher. My friend feels that her vocation has produced 4 productive members of society who each feel that their vocations are being fulfilled by their professions.

Personally, I am still searching.

Sammi said...

I really like that feather stone.

I am *just* a waitress but I don't care. My income is low, as are my outgoings, enough for me to save a significant amount of money into my bank account. I enjoy my work, and I have awesome bosses. And I think people who find their vocation can sometimes be stressed out by it, and I never want to be stressed by my work. Life is too short for all that, I enjoy what I do, and if I stop enjoying it then I'll stop doing it. That's the way to live, isn't it? Making sure each moment is a good one-- we spend so much of our lives working that we should be doing what makes us happy. Regardless of everyone else's view of it.

Loredana said...

I have to agree with you. I think it's rare that many have "found their calling". I think most of us just wind up getting wrapped up into things here and there and as you said 'look up and see how much time has passed' in that great moment we were having. But is that really a calling? Do we really know what we want to be when we grow up? And isn't it true that even those that are doing what they want always seek more? Are we ever truly satisfied? I'm sure the those like the Pope and Mother Theresa are (were) happy in their choices or rather they felt that God had chosen them but then I wonder, why were we put on this earth? And so begins a whole new set of questions and opinions. You really got me thinking here now...thanks...it's 11:33 at night and now I'm sitting here wondering "wtf am I doing with myself?" lolllll

Great post, as usual. ;-)

Spilling Ink said...

I have to say that this is one of the things I ponder every day now it seems, what is it that I'm "supposed to" be doing. I, like you, have had moments where it all seemed to flow but it doesn't amount to something concrete, you know.

I actually envy people who know. I'm sure they have doubts but as I walked by a couple of nuns in a shopping center today I was thinking about it: How did you know that this is what you wanted to do with your life and are you still sure?

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

Hi Julie....just a few words....I'll relate my short answer to this big-wide questions....I've always said that, for me, art making is a calling, not a career. And actually, now that I'm trying to eke out any kind of living from it, the process has changed...I'd rather go back to have it being just a calling and not a "career"....I'm less pressured that way. I think you know it when you feel that flow, as you describe....that's your calling....when you are truly free to be you.

jane said...

I think we get too hung up on words that try to define us and others. I think if one has passion, nothing else really matters. :)

Michelle said...

I trust this link will help many of us.... I just attended a keynote by Dr Lance Secretan - he had us use the following worksheet:

and it opened my eyes to my CALLING. Turned out that most of the work that I do, whether volunteer or paid, follows my calling! So nice to learn that the choices I've made are acutally more coherent than on first glance!

156 people have submited their Why-Be-Do - great inspiration!! Dr Secretan's Why-Be-do is listed too - enjoy!