This book: Po Bronson’s What Should I Do With My Life? was the first book that I could say “changed my life.”
I had heard an interview with Bronson on the radio one morning (2005) when, like most days, I was racing to work. I was a few years into my seven-year teaching career at the time and the concept of purpose had been gnawing at me since college. I remember pulling into the lot at work, excited, stoked that it wasn’t just crazy lil’ me so hell-bent on passion and purpose.
Yet, as I climbed the stairs to my classroom, I must have forgotten all my enthusiasm. I may have written the book title down on my desk calendar, but that was as far as I got.
Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, a week or two later, when I was behind again, racing to school, the same radio station had a follow-up interview with Bronson. I slowed down, grinning this time all the way to work. See, sometimes it pays to be late. Needless to say, I took that as my sign, and that very afternoon got myself to a bookstore (pre-Amazon) and bought a copy.
Up until then, I had only been surrounded by people who stuck by the rules, colored between the lines, and took pride in practical decisions. I was delightfully drawn to the stories in the book of real people finding “a calling;” I’d get teary-eyed just thinking about my own, whatever that was.
Some were professionals who had left careers after several years of service feeling unfulfilled. Some were young and lost, in search, like me. And one even received a letter in the mail of his rather noble and incredible calling.
That’s all I wanted in life: A letter in the frickin’ mail.
I was good at a lot of things. I had proof I could succeed at almost anything that I’d been challenged to try; I could figure it out. I just didn’t feel like going about fishing for it [a purpose]. I knew passion; I knew hunger, but for what entirely I had very few clues?
I wanted to be a writer. That’s why I’d gotten into teaching, because you have all the time in the world in the evenings and during the summer to write books, right? Wrong! Well, I take that back; maybe if you’re focused and disciplined. Neither one a strong suit at the time.
Luckily for me, the journey became the book. “What I was looking for all along was who was looking.” ** But, how in the hell was I supposed to know that?
Looking back now, it all makes so much sense. All the pieces fit so perfectly together in the construction of this pebbled road on which I stand grounded. So much so that I have faith in the fact that at least someone knows where all this is headed;)
The underlying theme in all those “seeking” in Bronson’s book, by the way, was intuition. In 2005, I had only ever had glimpses of my own intuition. I ran from it, in fact. It scared me somehow. I had come to know more fun habits of checking out rather than tuning in.
It wasn’t until 2007, when I started to tip-toe inward that I let myself be vulnerable enough to dream. I got quiet and clean for long enough that I could actually hear that tiny voice I’d spent probably more than a decade stifling.
I begged and begged on the beaches of Hawaii, “Just tell me what to do; I’ll do anything; just tell me what to do.”
“Tell your story,” the voice said. Loud and clear. Tell your frickin’ story.
There would be three or four more years of frustration while I still figured out what that meant. Fear and doubt to dance with, of course.
In 2011, when I boarded the plane to Hong Kong with full intention to do nothing but write my book and travel, I’d never felt more alive. Terrified; and giddily alive.
I hardly had more than a dream then. But I had trust. I trusted my intuition, a relationship I’d been nurturing for some time.
To this day I make very few decisions without “sleeping on it,” as they say. I tune in to my own universe channel each day to “check-in,” see what’s up, if you will. And so far, so deliciously good.
I leave you with this: What should you do with your life? Have you been ignoring “a calling”? Intuition? Coincidences? Gut feeling? Do you wonder about purpose or feel a void around passion? In the next 48 hours, give yourself 15 minutes of quiet/alone time and have a good long moment. Your mantra: How can I serve? What can I do? Or something like that that feels more natural to you. Don’t be ashamed to beg;) Just sayin, that shit works.
#Onward and inward
** St. Francis
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