What do you think – is virtue required to find your calling?

Posted on February 18, 2010

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Here’s an example of how my spastic brain works:

  1. Husband and I discuss the old Men At Work song ‘The Land Down Under.’  Neither of us can tell what words come soon after the beginning of the chorus “I come from the land down under . . . women xxxerelrks;ej?? and men s;lkrjoeirn?? . . .  ?”
  2. We know there’s something in there that rhymes with “thunder.”
  3. There are a surprisingly large number of words that could rhyme with thunder (wonder, asunder, blunder, plunder,  . . . )
  4. Husband declares that “men plunder” cant be part of the chorus because that’s too negative for a fun song.
  5. I think “men plunder” IS part of the chorus – and perform internet research to prove my righteousness.
  6. Then I wonder . . . what does plundering – or bad behavior – or . . . VIRTUE . . . have to do with finding a calling?
  7. A blog post is born.

As I delve into ideas, theories, examples and stories about people who find and pursue their calling, an archetype emerges.  The archetype of the person who busts his/her butt to make the thing they love happen.  The hero who pays their dues to win the prize. This camp feels like the virtuous camp, the group that deserves to be happy and succeed because, by golly, they earned it.  It seems a bit romantic and righteous when the virtuous folks win the prize (i.e., succeed at their amazing, heart stopping calling).

HOWEVER: there are a lot of rebels out there in internet land.  Rebels who say you don’t have to pay your dues, paying your dues is outdated, getting in line is for losers, go for the gusto from Day 1, have a plan, treat your passion like a business, get serious, stop being fluffy.  This camp has a LOT of appeal, maybe because I’m lazy – or maybe because I want to be modern and hip and sophisticated.  It is not the camp for the Don Quixotes among us, but dang, their reasoning has an allure of pragmatism, results-orientation, and quick bang for the buck.  I’m attracted to this camp – but I’m a little worried that so many folks in this camp seem to like trumpeting how they’re making the big bucks doing what they love (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I would LOVE to make the big bucks at my calling – but all the trumpeting makes me a little suspicious.

Looks like people in both camps can achieve success.  I suppose time will tell if both sets feel satisfied with the way their lives unfold based on their choices – and whether both sets feel that they found their true calling.

I’ve been following a friend who just published her first novel.  She is doing all the things the virtuous writer camp calls for (see Stephen King’s book On Writing)- joining writing groups, taking writing classes, submitting stories to (non-paying) literary magazines, setting up book signings at local bookstores, speaking at conferences.  It sounds like a struggle, and she is not on the bestseller list (yet).

This makes the potential writer (that would be me) wonder – is the virtuous path the way to go? Is it really the virtuous path?  Or IS it outdated? Is this a question of morals or tradition – or a question of changing with the times?  Right now the virtuous (aka “hard working”) path feels like a “should” as opposed to a “want to” for me (and, for some reason, I have a mental block about following the virtuous path).  Eeek – does this mean I am unworthy?

I don’t have an answer – I’m wondering what all of you think?  Do you have to travel the virtuous path to find your calling – or can you choose a different way?  Is this really a virtuous/non-virtuous choice – or is it a choice between tradition and revolution?  Or is it simply a matter of personal preference?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

For anyone who’s curious, here are the lyrics to the chorus of The Land Down Under:

Do you come from a land down under?

Where women glow and men plunder

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?

You better run, you better take cover.

Women glow and men plunder.  Who’d’a thunk?

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