Tuesday, September 6, 2011

get their hands on gold

"One problem with the word 'work' is that is has come to be equated with drudgery. Now some work is drudgery, though it is not always degrading. Vacuuming the house or scrubbing out the refrigerator is drudgery for me, though I find it in no way degrading. And that is drudgery is lack in me. I enjoy the results and so I should enjoy producing the results. I suspect that it is not he work itself which is the problem, but that it is taking me from other work, such as whatever manuscript I am currently working on. Drudgery is not what work is meant to be. Our work should be our play."--Madeleine L'Engle

I was talking with a friend yesterday about her summer. She's a pre-med major, trying to make her way through the drudgery of orgo II. But this summer when she was interning at a hospital, she came to realize that the work of a doctor was exactly what she loved. And it order to make it to that work, she had to make it through the seeming drudgery of tough science and chem classes. The summer helped her see past the endless parade of science and hard work to the larger goal: the work that she could do as a doctor-the people she could help, and the lives she could change. And that, of course, excited her.

Work should be fulfilling. Whatever you do should make a difference in some way. Even if that's just flipping burgers at McDonald's, you can still smile at a random guest, or ask them a sincere "How are you today?" and you may just touch someone's life. Working at the Mall for the past three summers, (which on the scale of one to "watch-me-work-my-saving-the-world-one-day-at-a-time-job" registers at around a "this-job-is-the-most-useless-job-ever") I had to find a way to make the work meaningful. Otherwise it becomes drudgery. And when your job you work every day becomes drudgery, then your life becomes a nightmare. And working at the Mall is basically working to bring a little happiness into people's lives. Which means you have to shake off all the grumpy mothers trying to wrangle their children, and the weird teenage boys who punch you, and just try to brighten the day of each person who walks by.

So that's all well and good, you can bring meaning to your work. But it's another thing entirely to find work that has meaning. To find a calling and a vocation that ignites that fire within you, that makes your soul say in a small, certain voice: "This. This is why I am here." And when you see someone who has found that work, it's awe-inspiring. When with my friend was talking about becoming a doctor, her heart was in every word she spoke. She wanted it. She found a vocation that she wanted and that wanted her.
Disclaimer: yes, yes, okay okay okay, Vocation is different than a career. But there are many parts of our overall vocation, and I think a calling to be an artist, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a counselor is part of your Vocation. These are callings that certain dispositions are naturally suited for. Not everyone can be a teacher, or has the temperament for for it. And not everyone who has the calling to be a teacher teaches at a school or a university. But in their life, God calls them to be a teacher in some way. Not everyone who is an artist paints a masterpiece or stars on Broadway. But God calls them to live their artistic vocation to the fullest in whatever way they can. Your calling is the Work that you were created for. A career-a job-is a way to support your life, and when your calling is your career, then you can count yourself the luckiest of men.

L'Engle was not created to vacuum floors (although that is part of her Vocation as wife and mother, but we won't discuss that now...), she was created with the desire to write in her soul. She had the disposition and talents of a writer and storyteller, and so she wrote, because that's what she was called to do.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend it's whole life believing that it is stupid."--Albert Einstein
Don't be a fish in a tree.
That fish was not born to climb that stupid tree-it was born to frolic in the ocean waves, explore the secret passage ways of the coral reef, and to swim in its little corner of the vast ocean contented and free.
Find your ocean.

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