Sunday, June 24, 2012

"What Should I Do with My Life?": Book Review & Self Speculations

fflllllmmmncncfffffffWhat Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Questionoo

In high school, I knew I wanted to marry Marshall, live in California, get my degree & be "insert career here". Even back then I hadn't clearly identified my life goals. I was in love & wanted to spend my days with him. The End. 

Not really. I knew I wanted to go to college, and I'd abandoned being a teacher which was what I'd always wanted to be as a child, when I continued to be petrified of & not particularly drawn to kids! But then my attention went to psychology, then pharmacy, and finally settling on nursing.

 My life plan has not panned out exactly as anticipated. 

I'm of Finnish stock, hearty, resilient with a touch of stubborn Italian (oh wait, that's a Finnish trait too~ oh well), which makes me keep plugging along. 

There's also a healthy dose of old-fashioned I BELIEVE IN GOD TO ENLIGHTEN ME mixed in as well. I believe that God has a plan for me, but sometimes I worry I'll be too distracted to notice. 

I feel tugs & pulls toward what I think would be soul-satisfying, and a couple of them scare me for different reasons. 

I've wanted to be a nurse for most of my adult life, and so God prepped me, sent me to school, gave me that innate desire to sponge up all information medically related, and then he gently laid Montie in my arms. 

Not anticipated... And I'm not sure my beaten-up heart can take more nursing. I care so deeply about other people, people I know intimately but also people I talk to in the middle of Giant, or at the library, or while being dragged by my beastly dog. I just love people. And I love to hear their stories. But mostly I've found I feel a real ministry in laying my hands on someone to ease their pain.

But leaving the heart wide open allows people, willingly or just by their own brokenness, to slam the doors hard making them shake. I understand the slamming, but the reverberations linger.

And that's what scares me. Can I function normally & be a nurse anymore? 

My other true love is writing. I love to write ...

I'm still working through the WHY writing scares me. I speculate that it has something to do with feeling like parts of my diary are being shared, even in fiction at times. And I feel very protective over certain events in my life ~ and protective over the people with whom I've shared them. And maybe this is a character flaw of mine that I need to work on... not caring what other people *think* is my truth. 

On the other hand I'm weird in that I think I avoid certain things when I'm pretty sure I'm going to either like them a lot and/or be good at them. Maybe I'm a challenge junkie?? 

No matter, it's not earth-shattering, and the world continues to turn even though I'm pondering the big issues of WHAT'S NEXT...

Sooo no, I didn't think Po's book was going to spell it all out for me, give me neat answers or even necessarily inspire me. But for some reason I kept gravitating to it whenever I'd go to Barnes & Noble. I'd look at it, think, "Oh my gosh, I have so many books. I don't NEED this one!" Finally after weeks of visiting it, I had a coupon & could let go of the guilt of buying the sucker (Yeah, I get that it was still $$ spent, but to me I was happy I'd held out long enough so that the coupon = justification.) 

Po doesn't claim to be a self-help author or one who's going to tell you how to "get 'er done", however, reading the book did leave me with a sense of community, knowing I'm not the only person out there struggling with the Big Question. I knew that, but it was amazing to read the personal transformations, read about some of their stumbles, and some of their successes. Not all of the stories wrap up neatly, but that left me feeling that sometimes our Big Question is really about making a Lifestyle Choice (or many of them?) 

As in so many other areas of our lives, when one goal is realized, another often slips up right behind it.

And so the recurring theme throughout this book resonated with me: 

If you feel passionate about something, you will make time in your schedule for it. 

There are some very creative people who just keep plugging away at things about which they are passionate. And this translates into their Lifestyle & answers the Big Question about why they're here/what their purpose is.

So in this way of thinking, people who have passion are following their calling. And as Po says, "A calling is not something you know, it's something you grow into, through trials and mistakes."

He goes on to say, "You can find your calling, or your can find your people, or you can find an environment that nurtures you - they all lead to the same place."

I appreciate the theme of our life-goals being a journey & not a destination, and perhaps that's where I've gone wrong in my noggin for so long. I keep thinking I need to "define myself", because of course that's what we do here... "What do you do?" is a prevalent question when meeting new people.

Instead perhaps I need to embrace Po's opinion on this matter as well: "We're not identified by what we do - our identity is anchored in what we've had to overcome to get there." 

That's just a lot to explain to other's...


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