Vocations & Following Calls
I want to talk a bit about vocation, a term for deep, sustained work, that comes from the latin for “to call.” Frederick Buechner has a great definition: “where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.” I don’t use the term vocation much in my coaching, in part because it can feel weighed down with or overpowered by its connections to christianity/religious practice. But, what I love about this quote, and about the lineage of vocation, is that it’s about relationship: between parts of ourselves, and between us and the people and world around us.
Vocation is a helpful term for when we’re seeking a deeper understanding of why we’re here on this planet in this time. There’s a way in which we’re taught to set and achieve goals in our culture that feels to me like a remnant of settler colonialism - pick a point in the distance and then fight your way towards it, cutting out anything or anyone that gets in the way, and then once you’re there defend it.
Thinking about our work as vocation gives us another way, which is to listen for what we have the longing, desire, skills, and wisdom for. What makes us deeply glad, lights us up, gives us a sense of our own aliveness and our part in things. And then we have to listen for the spaces in the world that are calling to us, so that when we arrive with who we are and what we have, we’re welcomed, expected, hungered for. The work that’s ours to do.
This way of living out our deep gladness is less like achieving a certain milestone, or having a particular kind of life, and more like arriving at the places, over and over again, where we’re needed, where we have something to share. So, our vocations aren’t reliant on having a particular degree, getting a certain job, or making sure we’re on the right career trajectory, but instead are about how we embody what we know, what we’ve learned so far, what makes us so glad we have to share it.
And I wonder, what’s making you deeply glad these days, no matter how silly or wild? And can you imagine, just for a moment, that there are people and places waiting for you, for what you have to bring?
If you’re interested in learning more about my coaching, or know someone who might want to work with me (angst about your job or what the heck you should be doing with your life is a good indicator), there’s lots of ways to connect with me - I send out bi-weekly email notes, have sliding scale monthly check-ins through Patreon, and offer 1:1 coaching work for people leaving their jobs, seeking career changes, working on writing or other creative projects, or who feel stuck around work or purpose under capitalism.