Typically, when we think of a calling, we characterise it in singular terms as one’s definite purpose in life e.g. to start a shelter for the disadvantaged or to serve an institution in a particular capacity. Framing it this way, living our calling becomes an all or nothing proposition, which can and does contribute to the pressure that many people feel to find that ‘one thing that I have been put on earth for’. In this sense, we have romanticised the notion of a calling in the same way that we have romanticised the notion of the one and only soulmate on which our happiness depends. It is seductive to think that one day out of the blue, we will have a road to Damascus moment where God will call us from on high, and from which point forward our life will become immeasurably better. We all want to believe that our life is going to get better and more engrossing in the future, and feeling uncertain and lacking faith in ourselves to create this reality, we place our hope in the lap of external intervention, whether divine or otherwise, to deliver what is missing from our life.
The hard truth is that nothing external to ourselves is ever going to deliver us what we feel is missing from our life, whether it is happiness, peace or love. Each of us has the inherent power to cultivate a relationship with our spirit from which these fruits spring, and to discern what our ‘callings’ are. Notice here that I have used the plural form of calling. What my research has shown is that we don’t just have one calling, but rather multiple callings which extend into the different domains of our life. Interestingly, it was primarily the women in my sample who accounted for this finding. Many of the women that I interviewed reported feeling just as much called in their role as a mother, as they felt called to service in the professional role that they occupied. Men, on the other hand, tended to have a more limited perspective on this, and primarily saw their calling in terms of the profession that they were engaged in. When one considers that it is generally women who bear the burden of occupying these roles across different domains, it is understandable why they would have a broader perspective on the subject.
Since I have completed my research and reflected on this question of whether we are called to one thing or multiple things, I have come to the realisation that there are as many callings as there are moments in time. Here, our misperceptions about time need to be acknowledged. How we ordinarily perceive time is longitudinally, that is it extends over hours, days, months, years etc. While characterising time in this way helps us to measure and account for it, our mutual participation in this superficial relationship with it blinds us to the reality that the present moment is all there is. If you were to reflect on your life cross-sectionally, that is at specific points in time, you would see that you were more accurately living in moments that were present for that time. So while we would classify those memories as past events from a longitudinal perspective, the moments in which they were lived are no different than this present moment in which I am writing this piece. The wisdom which says that there is no past or future, only now, is timeless for a reason.
Whilst I am giving expression to my calling in this present moment by writing this piece, I will manifest my calling differently in the moments that I share with my family this evening, or in other moments when I am called to inform and inspire an audience. Our calling, just like the spirit of life from which it emanates, is fluid. Living our calling therefore is dependent on our present moment receptivity to the promptings of our spirit. This requires openness, awareness and trust, which makes for challenging work, primarily because we are so invested in our ego identity which drowns out the voice of our true spiritual self. As a starting point to effecting change in this area, we need to become conscious of the present moment and the opportunity that it presents for transformation. Just as we can change our habits, so can we change what we bring to the present moment, and what it in turn has to offer to us. If we orient our thoughts, intentions and actions towards our true spiritual self, and in the process become a conduit for it, then from that alignment will the fruit that makes our life rich be beared.
I know this because I have experienced it myself and in the lives of others. I also know how challenging this present moment alignment with the spirit is because I struggle with it every day. Admitting this doesn’t make me a hypocrite, but a fellow traveller on the path to greater levels of conscious living. Just like you, I am required to cultivate more faith in myself and my source, and diminish the influence of ego in my life. When I do this I can more readily appreciate that I am called to enrich my relationships with others and make the most of the opportunities for growth that each moment presents, as much as I am to my work. Hopefully, through this piece you can come to appreciate the same in your own life.