Your (My) True Calling

I had so much success with last year’s projects prompted by Quest 2016, that I’ve decided to do it again. Join us at

Today’s prompt is from Krista Tippett (1). As the host of On Being, she challenges us regularly to consider the mysteries of human existence.

“What is your vocation, your sense of callings as a human being at this point in your life, both in and beyond job and title?”

In 2009, when I started this blog, it was titled, “On The Quest: A Woman in Love with The World” (or something to that effect). But the world is a difficult thing to love. It is messy, and complicated, and prone to violence. People are even harder, especially in groups.

For a long time, I doubted. I wrote sideways, and obliquely, and worried that people would think I was daft, or naive, or merely uninformed. But I still have this deep pull in my heart toward what Charles Eisenstein calls, “The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know Is Possible.”

I was, to be honest, in love with The Universe, in the abstract, more than the world in all its complexity. With cosmology, with physics, with philosophy. I love ideas. I love an elegant turn of phrase, and the challenge of grappling with a new worldview.


Yet I also came to know that people don’t experience the world in the abstract. We experience it subjectively, through bodies and minds that are entangled with the messiness, but trying to make sense of it at the same time. It is beauty and pattern, chaos and connection, tragedy and ecstasy, all at once. Sometimes, everything lines up, and sometimes it all comes crashing down around you.

And meanwhile, you still have to eat.

For the last couple of years, my subtitle has been, “Experiments in Living with Uncertainty.” I’ve adopted many many worldviews over the years, because to truly understand something (even if I ultimately reject it), I felt that I needed to see what the world looked like from inside this perspective.

I’ve been on an exploration of spiritual practices, while, in parallel, trying to figure out the question of Right Livelihood. This is an astonishingly difficult problem, this livelihood (especially in the light of spiritual practices). How do we make something of ourselves, maintain our ability to eat and stay warm, participate in our communities, flourish rather than merely survive, and do so in ways that don’t adversely impact the ability of others to access their own deep paths?

In the midst of this prompt, fearing that this blog post would take the rest of my week, I recorded this video:

I may not know you (yet), but I want your life to be amazing.

I want you to feel fulfilled, and connected, and loved. I want you to look in the mirror and see the beauty of creation. I want the trees in your yard to bear abundant fruit, the air in your community to be clean, and the water in your rivers to sparkle. I hope for your relationships to be replenishing, and your quest for meaning to be just challenging enough.

I want you to be whole.

I want to be whole. I want to live in a world full of people who are whole. I want to live in a Whole World. I want to do everything in my power to bring that about.


1. who happens to have the same last name as my paternal grandmother, and the great-grandmother after whom I was partially named, and therefore I wonder whether we are related


Two Stories

Quest2016 Prompt #12
What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?
What’s the story your just-right client most desires to bring to life in 2016?
Where do your two stories overlap?
Today’s (okay, technically last month’s) prompt comes via Jen Louden, a wise sage, and generally helpful for providing guides to living.

The story I most desire to bring to life in 2016 is one in which I step back into my teaching role, and bring my Technologies of Peace framework into the conversation about how each of us decides where to use our personal energies to make differences in the world.

My just-right learner/client/thinking companion cares deeply about the impact of their work.

They have thought long and hard about the meaning of life, and are dissatisfied with the mainstream answers they have been offered. They have probably gone down a number of different rabbit holes in search of answers and may need help (probably from a group of people) turning them into a coherent whole.

They want to hang out with more with other (deeply thoughtful) people, to meet them, work with them, and to make a living from the passions of their lives, not by merely supporting the existing structures. (They also are not satisfied with disruption for its own sake; it has to be focused on solving real problems. Social entrepreneurs, perhaps?) They are concerned with forming community, and ways in which their work can best benefit the people they touch. They want to use their powers for awesome.

Overlap: we both are looking for the same things. I have both technical and interpersonal skills to contribute to their development: I can easily shift gears from talking 20th century philosophy to configuring a mail server, from debugging code to supporting a friend through an emotionally challenging situation, and from making dinner for my family to teaching a yoga class tailored to a particular sport… I am multifaceted, and understand the (time, organizational, and emotional) needs of the multifaceted. (That impacts both my writing and my software design.)

(I also believe that we are all profoundly multifaceted and it is just our stories that make us forget that, especially about one another… but that is another post, entirely.)

Perspective Vortex

Would they miss you if you were gone?
What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer?

(Today’s prompt is from Seth Godin, of Seth Godin fame.)

I would be missed. Of that I am sure. Just probably not by “them.”

There would be no fanfare, no news item. I have left no books in my wake, no fans breathlessly awaiting sequels. Whatever impact I have had in my “work” is hidden in projects that were much bigger, done mainly in the background while somebody else got to be the face of it all.

If forced, most near-strangers would probably describe me with the same sort of non-committal language that ones uses to refer to a plant. I’m part of the background, the “network of nobodies” that somebody referred to at a meeting I was at recently. (Note to self: return that email. He was on to something.)

I am, however, still of an age that, for some people, a permanent departure would be a catastrophe. (How’s that for a euphemism for dying while your children are still children?) In addition, a goodly number of people are fond enough of me that I would probably occur to them at random times, maybe even years later. I lost a friend several years ago who had regularly recommended books, authors, and movies, and I think of him in bookstores and when picking something to watch. He had more of an impact on me than he knew, I think. I miss him. I’m confident that I have those people in my life, and that I don’t know, either.

And still, there are dozens of people who appear to experience unfeigned delight when they run into me; I’m sure that for them my non-existence would register, at least momentarily. There would be head shakings and “What a pity”s.

In here is the seed of an answer to the second question. ‘Cause I know that’s not what he was talking about. And I do kinda care about that other (more legitimate) interpretation, too. (See how I got all casual there, as if it weren’t the existential terror that has driven me since my mid-teens?)

“They” would miss me, in some sense, but they wouldn’t know it. The work that I haven’t done, the book that is sketched out on the wall of my office kitchen, the workshops I’ve only half written, or that I have written but not taught, or finished but not promoted… they are unfinished business that leaves me with the sense that, “I haven’t filled my end of the bargain.”

I believe that (on the one hand), each of us brings a unique set of perspectives to the world, and that our “work” involves sharing those perspectives with one another in case we have the pieces that somebody else needs. But/and (as one of my friends puts it), I also believe that ideas and perspectives evolve and arise out of collective knowledge, and that the outcomes of our individual contributions are unpredictable.

Show up. Do what is called for. Neither withhold nor demand attention, yet speak your truth.

My work isn’t done. My children are not raised. I have not expressed all my appreciations and gratitudes.

And if I were hit by a car tomorrow, as horrible as it would be to my immediates, the world would go on without me. The fact that this no longer fills me with dread and panic is making it a lot easier to get things done.


Pic via @NicSpaull