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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  You may say I'm a dreamer… but I'm not the only one!
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Thursday, January 7,2016

You may say I'm a dreamer… but I'm not the only one!

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain, his self-proclaimed “autobiography of faith.” The mountain borrows from Dante’s Mountain of Purgatory. In his book, Merton explains his frustrations as a young man at not really knowing his “vocation”. He felt called to be a monk, but was not quite sure if it was his vocation. He spent the better part of a decade looking for signs to verify his worthiness for such a calling. Rather trust his own instinct, he convinced himself that he must be wrong and continued to go to work as an English professor at St. Bonaventure, in upstate, New York He milled about writing novels and teaching, convinced that what he really wanted to do - become a monk - could not be his actual vocation. Thus he stayed stuck in a job that kept him from growing into his potential.

His hang-up about his true vocation got me thinking about the word, and about the difference between a job and a vocation; between a vocation and an occupation. A vocation is something we feel called to do; like what we were put on this earth to do it. A job, on the other hand, is an occupation. It occupies our time, keeping us busy with a job that pays our bills, but it may not be our true vocation. It is interesting that we call that a "job". As in the Book of Job. Is that why we call our occupation our "job."? For many, work is our “cross to bear” in that it is not spiritually fulfilling, despite a potentially huge paycheck. In fact, the larger the paycheck, the more likely one is to become a slave to his or her job. And if said job is not one’s true vocation, stress is the obvious by product.

That got me thinking about words again. Do we say "vacation" because it is the negative of vocation (the ‘a’ making it so, as it does in prefix form: atypical, apolitical… atheist.. vacation)? I have no idea. I’m not a wordsmith, but I am a lover of language. So, let’s have some fun. If we need to take a vacation from our Job, maybe a good way to spend it is doing what we love, which could be our Vocation. For example reading, writing, poetry, music, building, organizing, painting, singing, playing an instrument… we all have hobbies that we love. I believe those are the things we are meant to be doing. If we lived in a society that afforded us the ability to trust in our vocation, indeed, if we lived in a world where that were possible, we might actually live in a perfect world. Imagine if, rather than feeling obligated to work in jobs that will pay our bills, we were afforded the opportunity to pursue our passions, which would be our vocation. If everyone on this earth were able to do what they were truly “put here to do”, the world might actually be in harmony. Okay, I’m a dreamer. But it is fun to wonder.

 

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