There’s this idea that everyone has a calling. When you do what you’re really supposed to do, somehow you’ll feel fulfilled in life. In fact, everything will just fall into place for you. I’ve heard that story over and over, and truthfully, I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because as much as it sets people up for ‘success’ it also sets them up for failure. How so? Well, many people end up feeling that they’ve never ever found their calling. They die thinking they’ve not found it, and it never dawns on them that maybe what they did find would have sufficed if they made the most of it.
I’ve always been a pragmatist. Some would say I’m too pragmatic about life. There were times I told people to make peace with the fact they are probably going to die soon. I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but someone who dies and didn’t have time to make peace is so much worse off- I think- than someone who does. There’s a difference between being hopeful and being delusional. If you have hope, it should be founded on something. Some people confuse hope with faith. “Have a little faith” doesn’t always translate into being hopeful. Unless it’s real. Unless it is that you really do have faith, now that’s something different.
The way I’ve lived my life up to this point has been based on what is possible for me to do. I have always looked around me and asked myself how I could use the opportunities I have to its maximum benefit. Sometimes it meant cycling to university so that I can keep my bus-fare to buy something I wanted. Other times it meant making deals with people. When I was at university, like many students, I didn’t have money. I needed to buy books but couldn’t afford it. So I made a plan.
I shopped around for the books I needed until I found a place that was cheapest. I asked to speak to the owner of the shop and made him a deal. I said, “Sir, I need these books on the list to sell to students at my university. Give me a few copies of each and I’ll pay you the end of the month or return what I haven’t sold.” The man looked at me and said, “Ok, deal.” Every year I supplied the required books to students and carried some extra titles I sold throughout the year. Was that my calling? Probably not. Did it work?
The truth is that people are a lot less happier now that happiness is a focus. They are a lot less happier now that they are searching for their calling. You don’t really have a calling. What you have is a need to survive. You can barely survive and suffer greatly for it, or you can do well at surviving. All of it, in the end is about surviving. You can enjoy yourself and survive or you can be miserable and survive. Or, you can just not survive. Those are really your options.
There’s really only one instance I could say that something was really someone’s calling. I see it in one of my karate instructors. Senpai Gakiem trains hard everyday and does it for free. That’s a calling. It’s a calling because it’s not what he does to feed himself. It’s not a survival strategy in a material sense. However, in another sense, in terms of the human psyche, it’s a survival strategy nevertheless. Karate does something for him. I know it because it does something for me. It’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about balance, fulfilment and accomplishment. Karate is about being a better person. It makes him a calmer, more alert, more well adjusted human being. He found that in karate, just like I did. Some people find that in ballet, running, swimming or any other activity that requires hard work and discipline.
What’s my calling? I don’t have one. I value hard work, discipline and achievement. I trained just as hard as a runner as I did when I was fighter. I take that same attitude when I lift weights or when I lift a pen to write an essay. Achievement of various grades always follows hard work and discipline. People often ask me what business I’d like to start next? I always say, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it works. Do what works for you given the limitations of your abilities and circumstances. It doesn’t matter how well others do, you’re not them; you’re you. If you’re looking for your ‘calling’; here’s one. Do the best you can do in the circumstances you find yourself in.