Today on Twitter Fr James S Martin (so-called chaplain of The Colbert Report) wrote “Gospel: When Zechariah fulfills what God has asked him to do, his tongue is loosed. When we follow our calling in life we are able to sing.”
Two things come to mind quickly. First the one that made me happy, that made me want to blog and then second the one that maked me question everything and feel unsure.
First, even though I think I know what I’m good at and what I enjoy doing and I put my effort into making them be the same thing, as well as that thing that pays the bills, it’s quite the juggling act. I have yet to be successful at it. More over, there’s still enough play in my certainty of myself that I’m not sure if The Man Above has set me on this Earth to do this. I mean, I also get a lot out of serving others, helping and solving problems. Or just feeding people. Maybe I should be doing that? A few years ago I was awfully confused and lost on what I should be doing. I was trying and failing miserably to land any copywriting/editing/proofreading gigs. I just wanted to work, I told myself, and the written word was where I had experience and ability. But jobs were elusive and depression inescapable. I routinely prayed for a way out of the morass of doubt and fear. “God, please light my way,” I begged. I sure couldn’t sort it out for myself.
Fast forward over more losses, darker days, and somewhere along the way, through fairly un-spiritual steps, thinking to myself “hey voice acting could be cool to check out.” And here I am having a blast whenever I take my turn on the mic, getting to exercise abilities that have lain dormant since college, more than a dozen years ago.
I don’t know that voice acting is really my calling, it’s more like the area where I can potentially apply some (artistic) ability. But culture being what it is, equating art with a vocation is…uncomfortable. Lucky for me, no one directly has dissuaded me from it. My parents see living through the means of one’s art pretty much the same as any other industry – bound to succeed with effort. Couldn’t say though, if they appreciate the different effort it takes to succeed as an actor than, say, a teacher. Anyway, there’s still something in my mental makeup that says I’m cheating or lazing my way to a career by going for voice acting (with a helping, hopefully, of linguistics). I have to forcibly remind myself that I’m pretty sure I have some ability in that direction. I have to tell myself regularly that it’s a valid choice, easily on a par with copywriting.
Until I read the above quote (remember it?) I had taken validation only from the positive reactions of others to my work and my own relative happiness with where I am with my life. I’ve been thinking of it as a choice that I can only hope is acceptable. Inverting that to think of it as a calling, the evidence of which is the pleasure I take from the work in front of me, is a huge load off my back. I’ve felt almost guilty at how comfortable I feel working at voice acting, that the joy may come because it is my vocation feels like a true blessing.
And it’s a funny dance with acceptance of who I am and evading it in no small part because it’s actually a bit uncomfortable for me to admit that I believe in God.
Overwhelmingly, my friends, my chosen milieu is agnostic to atheistic: Skeptical, questioning, demanding of rational explanations that by their nature must keep to mundane cause and effect that perforce are repeatable events. More to the point, more than a few of them have had some fairly antagonistic things to say about faith, religion and people who maintain these in their lives. Merited or not, whether or not elicited by antagonistic statements or actions by the faithful or religious, it puts me on tenuous ground when it comes to professing my faith.
Even here, my virtual home for my thoughts, I want to explain, quantify and even apologize. In fact, I’d just as soon avoid posting outward facing thoughts regarding my faith because it’s been so hard to keep clear that speaking intentionally is not evangelizing, or at least it shouldn’t be taken as such. This is just how the world appears to me, your mileage may vary.
It’s almost embarrassing how tough it sometimes gets to admit that some gospel teachings resonate in me the same way that tasting delicious food, or listening to brilliant music or reading up on an exciting neuroscientific study can.
Well, Christmas is as good a time as any, I suppose, to out myself to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention: mostly faithful, slightly choosy, occasionally witchy, likes-meat-too-much-to-take-refuge-in-Buddhism, so-goth-I’m Catholic.
So it’s true, I believe. And in believing I look for God in the world I inhabit, in my thoughts and actions. It’s a whole other post – if not a whole book – meditating on what it means for me to seek God. For now, suffice to say that I maintain an internal life that I don’t talk about very much.
Something I’ve been muttering to myself with increasing frequency over the past several months is “know who you are.” I guess the idea is to take ownership of myself in order to know what actually works for me; but I keep repeating it because I want to remember that “knowing” is an active verb, not a state of being. Meaning, I have to keep finding myself because I don’t stay put. More importantly, I have to leave myself room to move, grow, adapt. Know, but don’t define. Self-definition is a trap. I may have said that in an earlier blog post, I’ll probably write it again eventually.
But my point is there is so much indirect pressure to be or do this or that that it’s easy, disgustingly easy, to mistake the pressure for internal desire. That so many of us find ourselves forsaking our calling because there are exigencies in our lives pulling us this way and that, is no surprise – we do have to eat after all. But who can sing while forced to utter someone else’s words? Who can dance in a cage? It wasn’t bloody likely that I was going to find satisfaction in a deskjob when the mere thought of cubicles and fluorescent lighting would hang a great anchor of depression around my waist.
God knows what’s next for me in this new career. But it’s such a relief to feel like I’m headed in the right direction that I could just sing.