Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Both of my parents have always suffered from 'Wanderlust'. My mother's creates a need for her to move into a new house; my father's forces him to find a new job. When I was a kid, that often meant a move to a new place; I never lived more than 4 years in any one place. Now, I understand that my mom's needs were her way of dealing with undiagnosed depression. My dad just gets bored easily and needs change. They sound like unstable people but they're really not: I had a secure and protected childhood and I appreciate what they gave me-even all the changes.
Thankfully, I didn't inherit the depression from my mom; if anything I'm unipolar in the happy direction rather than depressive. But I do get bored really easily with a job. My last couple of jobs have been perfect for me because they offered a great deal of variety and opportunity for growth. I like to do some amount of administrative kinds of tasks coupled with a good deal of creative work (like writing, public speaking, innovating, organizing things, people and events, etc.). I like to be around and meet new people. I like to talk. My last two jobs each allowed me to do all those things in totally different ways.
The university job, about which I wrote yesterday, is project based, meaning that when a project comes up that includes Middle Tennessee in it's data sample, I'll get called. Some years there may be two projects I'll work and other years there may be none. Some projects last a few months and one project I worked for 8 months. Some projects require field staff to work 15-20 hours a week and some 30+. I've only had the opportunity to work studies that are called 'area probability samples' in which participants are selected randomly by demographics via their addresses. When I get my caseload, it will be a list of address-I won't know who lives at the address and will have to 'cold call' on the house, find out who lives there and explain the purpose of the research study (which is usually funded by a federal government agency like the federal reserve, or the national science foundation). As you can imagine, a whole lotta people resent my intrusion, are completely suspicious of my motives and are hostile to me. It's a tough job. I've met some really wonderful and fascinating folks...I've also been cussed out more than once (and bitten by dogs 3 times). I either love this job or I hate it. It does pay well, though, and I'm good at it, even when I hate it. But it's no calling.

What is a calling? I've been pondering the idea of a calling and praying for some direction for some time. I am of the belief that even the most menial, unpleasant jobs I've worked over the years have taught me something I needed to know but I'd like to be in a situation in which I know my talents and skills are being best used to do God's work. Yes, I can bring 'that of God' to any job, but I'd like to know that I am where God wants me to be.
My only experience with being called to something is Quakerism. Over almost a decade, many things I read mentioned Quakers. After a while of reading about Quakers in many diverse topics and sources, I started to think I needed to know more. The first thing that drew me to Quakerism was the history of social justice but the more I learned about modern Quakers and the way Quakers believe that God speaks to each individual seemed right on, too. Eventually, I made my way to Nashville Friends Meeting and immediately felt 'at home'.
Is that what a 'right livelihood' calling will be like? Or will way open as needed? Or will I have to commit myself to something? I don't think I can make it happen other than keeping myself open to God's will for me. But maybe there are things I can do to prepare?
I have never taken any college courses for credit. There are a number of reasons for this but one of the main ones is the same reason I've never gotten a tattoo or started a business: I can't imagine committing to any one thing. As I've said, I get bored really easily and I'd hate to get a degree in something and find I was bored silly by it. And I know, if I get a degree in one area, that doesn't lock me into that one thing, but still. I have no desire to have to take remedial math courses and all that. But that is desire to avoid discomfort. I guess the question for me is: Do I believe God will better use me if I have an undergraduate degree? I feel no leading one way or another in answer to that question and I'm not about to run out and enroll at TSU on an unanswered question.
I believe that many facets of my life are leading toward something. The last few years I've learned so much: From teaching classes to homeschoolers, to having the confidence to organize and lead workshops for adults, breastfeeding, public speaking, home and natural birth, political awareness, my studies of social justice movements, world religions and Nashville's history, creating a learning cooperative, and all my recent studies of feminine images of God, spirituality, and ways of deepening awareness of the Divine. I think my recent need to be with other women who are spiritual seekers and facilitating the 'Motherhood and Spirituality' retreats is part of my path. I believe that all this (probably coupled with a lot of things I have yet to encounter) will all lead me to something. I wish I had a clue what this is leading to so I'd have a better idea that I have purpose and so that I can actively work toward something rather than just randomly following my, as Joseph Campbell said, 'bliss'.
I looked up the Joseph Campbell quote just now. He said, "If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living...doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else."
Ok, so maybe following my bliss is exactly what I should be doing. I have faith that, one way or another, God will put me where God wants me to be. Wanting to understand the plan is probably ego.

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