Career versus vocation

Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra records, home to such artists as The Doors, Love and Tim Buckley; when asked why he founded the label he said.

“For me, it was a calling to start a label. It was not a gig. It was was not a job. It was just something my soul simply had to do”.

Many times in life we find ourselves asking the question “What is it I am meant to do with my life?” and we can often find ourselves working within a career we stumbled into due to economic demands or voices from our surrounding culture or parents.

The Mythologist Joseph Campbell, who spent many years of his life working within academia, tells the story of students coming to him asking “What should I do with my life” and he would answer “Follow your bliss”. His response may appear at first to be vague, but I feel what he is inviting us to do is to follow what we love, allow ourselves to be open to where this may take us. rather than pursuing a career because it appears to offer security and strong financial rewards. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatus which means our ‘calling’. We may need to earn a living and support ourselves and those dependent on us, but not at the expense of living a meaningful life. I remember the day I decided to explore training to become a yoga teacher. I was on a yoga workshop, and as we broke for lunch I stepped outside into the warm sunlight. I suddenly felt a deep knowing within my body that I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and to ignore this inner voice would lead to a lesser and more constricted way of being. As we step into another year in our lives, maybe we can pause for a moment and ask ourselves “Is this the life I wish to live?”, and if the answer is no, then have the courage to be open to our ‘calling’ and wherever that may take us. I will leave you with some words from Jungian Psychologist James Hollis:

“We do not really choose a vocation, rather it chooses us. Our only choice is how we respond. One’s vocation may have nothing to do with earning money. One may be called to nurture others. One may be called to be an artist in a time which does not reward art, but we are sustained by saying yes despite neglect, even rejection.”