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.