Sunday, December 21, 2008

What’s Your Deep Gladness AKA Calling?

During this time of upheaval I have had a lot of folks speaking to me about what else they might do for a living. Seems like there are a lot of people that have been doing what they do sort of by default – either the money or the opportunity presented itself and they just ran with it. Not that there is anything wrong with that but at some point there are those who feel a stirring in their soul for something more.

Of course there are a few folks who found what they were born to do early on – for others, including me, this wasn’t the case. I got my hit almost two years ago and I can tell you before that it was annoying knowing there were folks out living their “Bliss” and yet I couldn’t figure out mine. My friend Frances used to say to me exasperatedly, “You shouldn’t be working for a CEO you should be a CEO.” I would think, “Okay, but CEO of what?!”

Now I can’t quite explain exactly how I did stumble into my calling although I do see some of the stepping stones that brought me to it. I certainly was constantly seeking it and I believe that the searching ultimately called it forth. Certainly living in the question moves it along.

One book with an interesting take is James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code In Search of Character and Calling he speaks about our “daimon” or “genius.” He asserts that character is fate and shows how the soul asserts itself sometimes at an early age. He tells us how children when perceived as challenging might be actually just unintentionally showing us the early signs of who they will be. He suggests with this new way of looking “then we may see disturbances in them less as developmental problems than as revelatory emblems.” He also talks about us choosing the life we have. Our parents, the monsters or lovers that they are or were, we chose -prior to arriving, so we would step into that which could and would form us. That we knew what was needed to call our destiny forth. One of his reviewers says that “Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here; that we are needed by the world around us.”

Frederick Buechner says “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” Can you step into that even briefly? What if you and your deep gladness is exactly what is needed here? What if the world hungers for you and your gifts?

If you are curious begin with this question:

If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?

Let your imagination go wild. No limits. Really sit with that and put down what ever comes up for you in a notebook. Write out your answer, no typing. (The act of actually writing has some sort of magic to it that typing doesn’t.) Let this exercise take as long as you need so you can get to the juice. It might take longer than you expect. But it’s a question that is worth seeking the answer to.

Campbell says that we must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. What if the life that is waiting for us is what we truly want?

This is the beginning of course, but any great journey begins with a first step.

The Challenge
As you approach this New Year I challenge you to step into it with a new vision for yourself. The exercise above is a good way to begin to form that vision. It need not be grand, but it must be different. Step out of your comfort zone. Take a course that you know nothing about. Speak up for an issue you believe in. Go somewhere that you never saw yourself visiting. Are you afraid of heights? Go to trapeze school. Do you love opera? Listen only to hard rock for a month with the intent to enjoy it. Do you dislike animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter. Take a course on a religion different than yours. Are you shy? Then wear something shiny and go out on the town in limo and hit all the hot spots with your sunglasses on!

I want you to mix it up! Let me know what shows up for you. And let’s see where it takes you!

May your holidays be filled with innocence, hope and laughter.

Other titles on this topic that I recommend:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
What Color Is Your Parachute?
How to Find Your Mission In Life both by Richard Bolles
What Would You Do If You Had No Fear by Diane Conway
Pathways To Bliss Joseph Campbell