What we could have been.

Papaw and me

Papaw and me

This post is dedicated to anyone who’s ever missed their calling.

Earlier today I was chatting with my dad, and I casually mentioned that I always wonder if I’d have been successful doing something to pursue my writing professionally, like journalism.  “Oh, without a doubt.” he said, “To be honest, I kind of think you’re missing your calling, Lee-Lee.”

Granted, my dad has this weird quirk where he can’t think that anything is good without thinking that it’s the best, and he can’t like anything without it being his favorite of all time.  I can’t even tell you how many times he’s called me on his way home from the theatre to tell me, “This is definitely the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.”  So while I always appreciate my dear ol’ Dad’s opinion, I also know I have to take it with a grain of salt.

So I’m not abandoning my college plans to start a novel or anything.

But he did get me started thinking about all of this “missed calling” jazz.  Man, if I already missed my calling before I’m even old enough to rent a car, it must be really easy to do.

I bet a lot of people have missed their calling.

Like my Papaw.  Just a month or so ago, he told me he wished he’d have gone to college and been a DNR or gotten some sort of job with the Park Service.  Or he could have been an engineer.  He has a brilliant mechanical mind.  But jobs in the South were hard to come by, so he moved North with his young bride and worked in a factory.

Or my brother.  He could have been an astronaut.  But his eyesight stinks and he’s never been all that good at math.  So he teaches Social Studies to some of the roughest middle-school kids in Indianapolis.

It seems like such a shame.  At least, it seemed like a shame at first.  Now I’m not so sure.  I’m pretty sure my Papaw and brother are both fairly happy and content people.  And maybe, just maybe, people who have missed their calling find other callings and pave the way for other peoples’ callings.

Like my Papaw.  He could have been a park ranger.  But he wasn’t, and now both of his grandsons are Eagle Scouts and one has thru-hiked all 2,178 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  And all of his grandchildren know how to sharpen their own pocket knives.  Papaw’s not an engineer either, but his son became a mechanical engineer, and two of his grandchildren became an electrical engineer and a biomedical engineer.  The biomedical engineer married a mechanical engineer.

Or my brother.  He’s no astronaut today.  He’s a Social Studies teacher.  But sometimes I get a call from him late at night, even though we don’t live in the same house anymore, just to say, “You’ve got to go outside and look up!  The moon is awesome tonight!”  And on clear nights, he puts our little sister on his shoulders and takes her out to look at the stars.  With the patience of Job, he points out each little pinprick of light, naming the names, connecting the dots, telling the stories.  Arcturus.  Vega.  Deneb.  Altair.  Sirius the Dog.  Orion the Hunter. To this day, I can’t look up at Orion without thinking of my big brother, revealing the great Hunter to me when I was our sister’s age.

Maybe he hasn’t missed his calling after all.

And maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.


About leahrayanne

Autumn. Long conversations. Tea. People. Undisturbed land. Cooking. Literature. Teaching. Learning. Hiking. Travel. Laughter. Things built to last. Love. Home.
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10 Responses to What we could have been.

  1. Mom says:

    Okay, Leah….this one definitely made me cry.

  2. Maybe our callings are a lot like the idea of soulmates. There isn’t just one perfect one. While we could miss one, we’ll never miss out on doing something we’re meant to do. Maybe whatever we’re doing is what we’re meant to do.

    • leahrayanne says:

      This comment makes me wish WordPress had a “like” button. Seriously though. This just might be the truest thing I’ve heard all day. And you might have just summed up my whole post in 4 sentences…which is exactly why you’re better at Twitter than I am. Thanks for making me think some more. I should really be used to that by now.

  3. This post is a good read. I enjoyed the descriptions of your father and brother as affirming and multi-dimensional people. It is good to see men portrayed and appreciated for being balanced, healthy and whole. And about the ‘calling’; have patience with yourself. Its coming, and its going to be really good.

    • leahrayanne says:

      Thank you very much for reading my post, Robert. I’m really glad you thought it was a good read. My life has been blessed with some really great men. As far as my calling goes, I really believe that one of the biggest reasons I’m walking around on this earth is to be a teacher. I love that calling. But that’s not to say I may not be called to other things too– like writing. Thank you for your encouragement.

  4. Joe says:

    I mostly agree with Michael, except for one point, which is to say that we are doing what we’re supposed to IF we are finding our happiness with it. A lot of people go through life miserable because they get stuck in the 9-5 lifestyle, or some other standard routine, and never find the time for themselves. It sounds like your brother and grandfather are quite happy. But it’s still important to encourage people to follow their dreams, because the idea of “doing what you are supposed to do” isn’t quite so appealing if you don’t like where you are. lol Too much, I know.

    • leahrayanne says:

      Not too much at all, Joe. I always love your comments. I mostly agree with you, but I’d like to propose just one more thought: Many people do find happiness even stuck in a mundane, 9-5 routine they don’t find satisfying when that routine allows them to provide for their families, or to pursue a hobby. Granted, that’s not ideal. In a perfect world, we could all have supremely gratifying careers to support our loved ones and lifestyles.

      • Joe says:

        That’s true. I was merely focusing on those that don’t because I know more of them. I have always recognised the importance of those who work the daily grind, and some people thoroughly enjoy it. However, I also have always known it wasn’t for me, and despite the respect I have for them as a whole, most of the people that enjoy such work I have a tendency to not get along with. Usually because they think I should be doing the same thing as them. lol

      • leahrayanne says:

        You crack me up, Joe.

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