Saturday 29 September 2007

Lucy over at Diamonds in the Sky With Lucy has just posted about joyful work. And here is the Frederick Buechner quote from her post:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Frederick's quote has been circling around in my head all week. And then it shows up in my morning blog reading. I love it when that happens. I have been at my dull boring job for several months now. I predicted I would only be there for a month, but I didn't know that I was going to get sick. It was enough for me to just drag myself there for my 15 hours a week and deal with issues of vocation once I got better. At least I was making a bit of money so that my mother paying my rent didn't have to pay even more than she already has.

But now that I am getting well, I'm getting ready to ramp up my hours and the prospect of being there even more isn't a tantalising one. But I am trying to have some perspective. Doing more hours doesn't mean I'm going to be doing this job for the next century. And really, when I slow down into the work and focus on the job at hand, rather than projecting forwards or backwards and complaining in my head about how boring it all is, it all becomes do-able. It becomes then more akin to a meditation. If I focus on doing it as well as I can then its crap elements - its boringness - becomes a springboard to it being some sort of a meditative offering.

So that's how I'm trying to approach it. But this job was never going to be anything more than a job. Being stuck in front of a computer for X hours doesn't really motivate me to write. And I do feel like writing is my vocation. Even though I feel like I have barely scraped the surface, and I have so far to go and so much to learn, it is the one thing that consistently draws and entices me. I am planning on tackling writing a novel this year (yikes) and I am desperate to return to writing some more short stories that feel like they're circling round in my body. But a certain level of physical wellness is necessary for me - for whatever reason, I have never been able to write whilst sick.

Now, I know vocation is not necessarily the job you're doing to pay the rent. For all I know, perhaps I will be stuck doing rather boring jobs forever and writing on the side. Perhaps I will never reach the point where I could write full-time. Hell, I don't even think I could write full-time, the way some writers approach it, with a starting and finishing time and writing eight hours a day. Then again, I have never tried it, so who knows? Perhaps I would surprise myself.

But the idea that it's possible to do work you love? Now, that's such a hard one to grasp. The protests that well up in me at that thought make me wonder what my motivations are. Why do I think that I don't deserve to do work that I enjoy? Well, I guess because I (a) have never really done work I enjoy in my entire working life and (b) I look around me and most people are doing stuff that is boring as batshit, to varying degrees. But does that mean it's not possible? Not at all.

My desire is to write non-fiction stuff for publishing (magazine articles etc) so that I can then have enough time to write fiction, the stuff I really want to write. It is so obtainable - look at the amount of magazines there are on the market. And with the internet, now I have the world's markets to be able to publish in. It's do-able. It just doesn't feel like it :) But that's my aim, and I'm sticking to it ... even though months go by and I don't do anything to move towards it. It's still there. It won't go away.

So that Beuchner quote. I'm pondering that one. Where is the crux of my deep gladness and the world's deep hunger? I feel a bit shy talking about a few of the things that come to mind. One of those things is my conviction these days about God's kindness, about how much it changes everything and how little we believe it. But I don't know how that fits in. Does it all boil down to writing again for me? Is that something I should be writing about? I don't know. I hope so.

I also think that our vocation is often the thing that talks to our hearts the strongest but that feels too good to be true when we think of it as our vocation. That's writing for me, definitely :) And I guess that's what Buechner was saying in his quote.

Another thing about a vocation is that it needs a lot of time. It needs a lifetime. And a lifetime of time which from the outside of a life looks like time spent wastefully. But perhaps all good things in life appear that way these days. The time spent raising one child seems wasteful. To keep up with your friends. To compose music, art. To make a garden. To train to learn how to dance. But if we don't take the time now to do those things, then how much less expansive and beautiful and full life as a whole will be in ten years' time. We are so efficiency conscious that spending time wastefully seems ... well, wasteful! And yet I am becoming convinced that it's where ALL the good stuff lies, and that my compulsion to go and do only those things that are efficient is something that springs from the flesh, and not from reality. And oh, I can't tell you how much of a relief that is. Reality is springier, longer, bigger, wider, and more wasteful than we think. Always. Or than I think, anyway. The other reality is in front of my eyes every day, but it's blue pill reality. What constitutes the heart of that reality is the stuff that should always sit around the periphery in the red reality. Blue pill reality is grey, lacks music, nuance, dance, words.

I want to live wastefully.

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