“Finding one’s calling is not just about finding something we can do – it is about finding what we can’t not do. “Let your life speak” is a time-honored Quaker admonition to live one’s life as witness to the deepest truths one knows. But as Parker Palmer explains, those words can also mean, “listen to your life, and let it tell you what your truth is.” Vocation, he writes, comes not from external demands but from listening to the true self, a listening that will always call us into some form of service to others.”
Something Palmer said that has stayed with me is that burn out occurs when you give what is not in you to give. That you are going against your true nature in giving or doing that which is now burning you out. I definitely feel burnt out. And now I know why.
In my contemplative walk through the woods today, I realized that my true nature seeks harmony and peace, not discord and competition. I realized that the work I do as a municipal prosecutor inherently goes against my true nature (duh!). I think I’ve been feeling it for a long time but haven’t fully understood it intellectually until now. It’s clear that I can put on the clothes and the face to do the job,and do it well, I think, but that doesn’t mean that I should be doing it, that it’s what I’m called to do, or in my best interests or best life to do.
Wow! It’s so deeply rewarding when the light of clarity dawns on you. I feel somehow liberated by that realization; like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s just not me at the core of my being and the reason I’m so drained is that I’ve been forcing myself to do it, because, let’s face it, I need a pay cheque, it’s a “good job” and one that many strive for.
But in addition to all of that, the reason I’ve done this work as long as I have is that there are aspects to it that make it bearable: the independence, the words, written and oral, and dealing with the occasional person who needs what I personally bring to the table: my ability to be deeply empathetic and help people who are struggling. Maybe that makes me in the business of bringing Grace into people’s lives?
Finding my vocation has been a long standing question mark for me and Palmer’s book together with Danielle LaPorte‘s The Fire Starter Sessions, are helping me to home in on what my core values and innate nature want me to do with my life.
In the next post, I will share some of the things I’ve learned from LaPorte’s book. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!