During times of change and confusion, many of us dream about getting a clear directive. Perhaps a tape will mysteriously show up in the mail that bears the message, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

Finding purpose in life that leads to a fullfilling mission is the single most difficult task facing most of us. As the Buddha wisely encouraged, “Your real work is to find your real work—and then do it with all your heart.” 

The problem isn’t that only a few of us are given a mission. The trouble arises from the numerous events and people who distract us from hearing what our mission is to be.

Many people quietly wrestle with the dilemma, thinking they are alone in not knowing. Others are surprised when they suddenly find that life choices they were so confident about no longer make sense or bring satisfaction. If we’re wise, we’ll embrace such times as opportunities to grow beyond anything we’ve previously imagined.

Whether you’re in the midst of such soul-searching or could just use a little clarification, in  Callings, author Gregg Levoy points out that following an authentic life is not necessarily benign. Levoy begins with the assumption that we all have callings in life, but many are not alert to the signs and signals directing them. So where should we be looking? Here’s what Levoy suggests.

“Expect that through the right lens, all our encounters will appear full of thunderbolts and instruction; every bush will be a burning bush. Such encounters might include:

* An offer to collaborate with someone on a project that draws you in an entirely new direction.

* A sudden crisis that calls on powers you don’t realize you possess but whose time has come.

* The loss of a job that pushes you over the edge you’ve been peering at for years.

* An illness or accident that reminds you of what really matters.

* A chance meeting with a stranger that sparks something in you.

* A tragedy that gives you your life’s work and determines what it is you have to say to the world from that day on.

* Any family reunion. However exalted we imagine ourselves to be in spiritual and emotional matters, we have only to spend a few days around our families to see how far we still have to go and what in particular we need to work on.

* Any strange occurance.”

Sounds to me like Levoy is saying that our callings are only clear if  we’re willing to take the cotton out of our ears. Are you listening?

2 Responses to “Can You Hear Your Callings?”

  1. Barbara Winter

    Charles, I also saw your comment on Twitter about adult ed cancellations. I fear that too often people aren’t aware of the difference between being thrifty and operating from a place of false economy. Kind of like eliminating arts programs in the schools.

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