Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vocation

Why are we here?  It's one of those questions that seekers have asked themselves for countless generations.  Personally, I believe that we're all here for a reason, that we have a calling or (to embrace the letter theme of today's post) a vocation.  As a shaman, people come to me on a regular basis and ask for assistance in finding their calling.  While there are a series of steps that we can go through, a process where you learn to see clearly and listen to your heart, there's a very simple path that leads to the same answer.

One of the key challenges in embracing the concept of a calling is that we look at it in a vacuum.  What is my calling?  What should I be doing with my life?  Ironically, most of the challenge in realizing our calling is found in those questions.  We approach the concept of a calling as if we're doing it alone.

If we were to draw a series of three concentric circles and write "Me" in the very center of our world, as we considered where the people who share our life fall, many of us would discover that we're not alone in that inner ring.  We may write the name of our partner, our children, or our best friend next to us as they are truly at the core of who we are. Expanding outward from there, held within the second ring are our closest friends and confidants, whether they are blood relatives, childhood friends, or someone we just met but immediately "clicked" with.  In the final ring are our connections - friends, family, and co-workers who share our world but who aren't as close as the other names we've written down.  Beyond that is the world and the majority of humanity.

What we find is that these the innermost circle is our oasis.  This is where we recharge, draw our strength and inspiration, and where we're able to set the calling aside and just be ourselves.

The second circle is where we find our calling.  These people hold the clues to our greater vocation and they act as mirrors for who we are and what we are here to do.

Imagine that you're ready to embrace your calling.  For argument's sake, let's say your calling is to build a treehouse in your backyard.  Who would you call?  Why would you call that person?

When we look at that second circle, we find people that are drawn to us through some greater cosmic process we don't clearly understand.  Each of those names is there for a reason.  Some are there for support and encouragement.  Others are there to help with logistics.  Some are there to provide a sounding board.  And others are there for us to say, "I'd like to help you with your calling and I think I can offer you this."

I don't know about you, but while the concept is very reassuring, actually applying it seems way too complicated to me to figure out.

Thankfully there's an easy way to proceed that allows those answers to naturally fall into place without us having to do a single thing to make it happen.

We reach out to the people in our world.

Simply by reaching out to each other, spending time together, and showing an interest in each other, we find ourselves looking in the mirror that we present to one another.  As those bonds deepen and strengthen, we find common ground and talk about topics that interest us both.  Over time, in the midst of those conversations, ideas begin to present themselves.  Soon we find ourselves saying, "We should really do this together," and discover that we're both excited about it.  Maybe all we find is a desire to play a game of one-on-one basketball at the local elementary school.  And, after doing so, we enjoy it so much that we plan to play on a regular basis.

Let's imagine that after nine months of simply enjoying each other’s company and some friendly competition, you stop by the grocery store on the way home from a game and happen to bump into a person who needs your help.  Or you run into an old friend you haven't seen for years that remembered you being interested in something and offers you an opportunity.  Would you have been in position to be at the grocery store at that exact moment if you'd never played basketball with your friend?  Maybe.  But if you hadn't engaged in your regular games of one-on-one, would that friendship be deep and trusted to the point you could turn to your basketball friend as support or a sounding board?

We make our lives much more complicated than they need to be.  You can endlessly offer your assistance to others, but they don't have to accept your aid.  You can pursue one path after another, but that doesn't mean the doors will open for you.  Your calling isn't something you can force; it simply happens, much like the rising sun slowly turns night into day.  As adults in our culture, we have more than enough responsibilities to keep us busy.  The last thing we need to do is to try to unravel the weave of reality so we can trace our own thread.  You can approach things that way - but it will drive you crazy.  Me?  I prefer to look to my circles.  Whether the names have newly arrived or have been there for years each is equally valuable.  Some, like my wife, fit in more than one circle.  Bri is not only my oasis but we support each other in our individual callings.  Others move from one circle to the next as we grow and evolve, either pulling closer or drifting apart.

If you don't know where to put the people in your world, spend time with them.  Reach out.  If you don't connect deeply with anyone, start with yourself.  Spend time with you, exploring your interests, finding out what you enjoy, what helps you recharge after a long day, and how you enjoy expressing yourself.  With that in place, approach the people in your world in the same way - spend time together, explore your mutual interests, and find out what you both enjoy.

None of us live in a vacuum - and our calling doesn't exist in one either.  It's never a process of finding out how we approach life alone, but a journey to discover how we approach life together.  Reach out to those closes to you.  It's there that you'll find not only your answers, but large parts of yourself that are waiting to be uncovered.


  1. "Simply by reaching out to each other, spending time together, and showing an interest in each other, we find ourselves looking in the mirror that we present to one another." - My favorite line in the whole piece. Brilliant!

  2. Great Blog once again. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and have faith! :)<3

  3. The last two sentences of this blog ring so loudly in my heart and soul. Thank you for yet another amazing blog today!!! :))

  4. Reaching out doesn't always work.

  5. @Renee, Lori, and Toby Thank you. :)

    @Memiki My heart goes out to you as I can tell you're writing from personal experience. There are two different ways to interpret your comment, so let me see if I can quickly respond to both.

    First is one of time. Finding our calling doesn't happen quickly and can often take years to fall into place. Even then it can be a subtle thing. I can't count the older folks I've worked with who readily admit, "I thought I never found my calling - until I looked back and realized I'd been doing it all along."

    Second is the issue of reaching out and not finding the connections you need to rely on. At issue isn't so much a question of whether reaching out does or does not work, but if the relationships we're relying on are healthy ones - and in our culture, that can be a rarity. Not everyone we know fits into that second circle, let alone at our core. And I will readily admit that there were stretches of my life when the only name on those first two circles was my own. In such a situation, there isn't anyone to reach out to - and reaching out to those in the third circle and beyond is generally less than effective. When we find ourselves in such a place, we begin with ourselves. (I briefly addressed the concept in the second to last paragraph.) I've known numerous people (myself included) who didn't

  6. It is important to reach out to others. While some would rather you didn't, many embrace it when you do. It's never too late to try. Julie

  7. I agree it's never too late. Once again, I've found so much food for thought here - will look out for the non linear time post when the, er, time comes! Thanks for another great read.

  8. Another wonderful post. Some people don't want you to reach out to them, or at least, don't think they do. But if you give them space, and a willing ear to simply hear their troubles WITHOUT trying to solve them ... enough trust can eventually develop to allow them to accept that helping hand.

  9. @Julie I never take it personally when I reach out and it's not accepted. My wife and I have been known to walk around with food and drink for the homeless. Sometimes it's accepted, sometimes its declined, and sometimes the person is so moved that it leaves all of us in tears.

    @Karla You're very welcome! I'm really enjoying your blog as well.

    @Susan That's an excellent point! I absolutely love, "But if you give them space, and a willing ear to simply hear their troubles WITHOUT trying to solve them ... enough trust can eventually develop to allow them to accept that helping hand." Thank you! :)