I HOPE YOU DON’T FIND YOUR CALLING
If there was one thing I could change when I hear someone say: ‘I hope you find your calling’, I would gently tweak it to: ‘I hope you find the direction of your calling’.
What you dedicate your life to is the direction of your calling, or what you hope your calling is. That is the only thing you can do. Because the calling evolves over time. It doesn’t rest as one objective, but manifests into many different forms. I am a bit wary of people who make finding their calling sound like discovering a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or stumbling upon an oil well in their backyard. Perhaps this is why so many people, after realizing their so-called ‘calling’, hesitate to grow out of it to do better things. They guard themselves amid the perception of their purpose, whereas the purpose itself is an emotion in constant evolution.
Your calling, I have come to believe, morphs into ideas, projects, ambitions, strategies and dreams you never even fathomed in your creative mind. You have to do a decade’s worth of homework to even begin conceiving them.
When I started collecting life lessons at fourteen, I did not aspire to start a global organization with so many creative projects across the spectrum. What I really hoped would happen was that, with all the wisdom of the world in my journals, by the time I was eighteen, I would be the first person in human history to commit no mistakes. I swear I thought that.
But as I turned seventeen and inched towards my eighteenth birthday, I started realizing it was impossible to not make any mistakes. In fact, on the contrary, that would be a far bigger mistake. Collecting life lessons from people who belonged to all walks of life revealed to me that I had the choice and power to not commit the same mistake that a million people had already made, and could share what happened at the end of that newer experience. It was like going to watch a movie knowing how it ended. Therefore, I was liberated into pushing the limits in each aspect of my life: work, relationship, friendship, among others.
In the process of executing a project, the moment an outcome or learning would become predictable, I would alter the plotline a little to arrive at new discoveries. When I look back to take stock of the kind of work I have done, I think this shift in perspective has been the major catalyst.
Otherwise, there is no solid reason for a young boy with no big connections or family wealth being able to spend ninety days in Europe, documenting the learnings of refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria, or collect stories from a remote village and depict them through paintings on walls.
It takes great courage to play many different roles in one single life. To experience all the things you love or live or savour or serve, and not be ashamed of it. The fact is, we are going to die. And if we have already signed up for that adventure, the most unknown of all, should anything else scare us at all? That driving class we have been meaning to take, the ballet we wish to perform, the cooking, the singing, the off-roading, skydiving?
People can only make you feel bad about being a jack of all trades when you deny you are one. When you announce you want to be a jack, the world gives up on making you the master of one.
Author Maya Angelou wrote, ‘When you know better, you do better.’ I do know better now, and, consequently, I want to be many things: maps that guide people home, prayers that help faith survive, a lullaby that hums people to a peaceful sleep, and most of all, a river that travels far and beyond and nourishes everything it passes.
Perhaps, every once in a while, switch tracks, set the volume to an unassuming level. While you blindfold your courage with the strap of clarity, try not to easily embrace the purpose that longs for home, but rather challenge the intention that seeks your help in finding an existence. In the process, your calling might evolve.
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