Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wisdom on Wednesdays: On Finding Our Calling

I was struck last week by just how much my son loves making art.

He hates piano practice; it takes him easily three times as long as it should, because every time he gets assigned a new piece to learn he complains that it's too hard and moans and chokes and gets all worked up and says he wants to quit. Then he learns it and by the next lesson he enjoys playing again - at least, until the next new piece. We won't let him quit; we think it's good for kids to learn that sometimes, we have to work hard to get good at something. Besides, he doesn't really have to work that hard; he's actually naturally quite good at it. But it isn't his calling.

Ditto for dance classes, which we are letting him quit even though he said performing was better than he had thought it would be, because his expectations of what performing would be like were pretty low to begin with. And he dislikes the challenge so much, he doesn't even bother to practice between classes.

But not so for art. No matter how hard it is, he keeps re-doing it until it's just the way he wants it. He enjoys the process.

I am not a great writer. This does not mean that I never will be, but I recognize that I am not now. I am good, but not great. But when I am immersed in the act of writing, that doesn't matter.

Finding your calling isn't about being naturally good at something.

Finding your calling is not about enjoying the result of having learned something and gotten good at it.

Finding your calling is about enjoying the process of learning something so much that it doesn't matter how bad you are. It's about enjoying the act itself so much that no matter where you begin, you will keep doing it until you get better. It when we love not the results, but the process, that we know we have found our true calling.

Have you found yours?


  1. yes... writing.. always happy when I'm writing. ;D

  2. I think that's so true that you must find your calling to persist in art or a sport. For me it's writing.

    And yes, I remember the days of my daughter struggling to do something, like writing, that she did not want to do and it took forever because of the lack of desire. Thankfully they outgrow that phase.

  3. Well said, and a good distinction! It's not just talent that counts, it's that sheer dogged persistence that comes from loving something too much to give it up.

  4. Agreed ! .. :D .. I would love to be able to write brilliant stories in one go but the process of going through it is just as much fun.

    That said, at procrastinating, I seem to be a real pro.

    Grand post.

  5. Mmmmm. Good post. Especially since I have a finished first draft of a manuscript which needs LOTS of processing. Writing's process truly is a marvelous thing.

  6. Great thing about artistic endeavors is that the struggles you go through only make it better in the end:)

  7. Wow, cool post. Sometimes I feel like the only person I know (IRL) with a calling, and it really is what separates me from all the other moms in my neighborhood. It doesn't matter what the calling is, but if you follow it, it takes over your life.

  8. Oh, I LOVE this! How inspiring! I feel like maybe writing isn't my calling, but you've defined it in a way I can totally identify with!

  9. Margaret Atwood tweeted this at me when I asked her how she overcame rejection:

    "took a while to get published but kept going because not viewing it as a "job" but as a calling/craft so all writing was practice whether or not it had immediate results."

    I am my own worst critic with ANYthing, but when I'm writing (or thinking about writing) it brings me great joy.

    One day my writing will become my paythebills job, but until that day, I'm enjoying this time.

    Thank you for sharing!