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It’s not who you sleep with …

01/18/2011

It’s who you are.

I’ve mentioned this concept in other posts, but recently I was reminded of it – rather forcefully – in an unexpected context. It’s a concept that has sustained me through difficult changes, and sometimes, when things look dark, it’s good to get a reminder.

As good as my life has been – and still is – after coming out and relaxing into my new self, the business side of things over the last three years has been a near-total train wreck. The economic climate (if you can call absolute zero a climate) helped bring about the demise of the marketing agency I led for 20 years, as well as the loss of my stake in a real estate deal that I assumed would fund a big chunk of my retirement. At 59, I’m broke and looking for something new to do with myself.

As a part of the effort to redirect my money-earning self, I read a remarkable little book the other day, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. It’s only 100 pages long, and the pages are small, but it really packed a punch. The author Parker J. Palmer offers a succinct and very accessible discussion of how, and why, to find your true vocation. Vocation, as in what you were born to do – what you need to do – with your life.

He makes the fundamental point – nothing completely original, really, but compelling because he makes the point so well – that you cannot be successful and happy doing something you are not cut out to do. No matter how hard you might try to do something else, to be happy and successful, you have to follow your true vocation.

What does this remind me of? Myself, of course. And of all of us late bloomers. We tried, with varying degrees of success, to be a person who, at the end of the day, we were not. Life can’t and won’t make sense until we live as the person we were born to be.

So, now, after all the pain and angst of coming out, and all the changes that entailed, I’m having to look at my career the same way. What was I born to do? There’s not a simple answer sitting there waiting for me in plain view. But it’s there, and I’ll find it. I know it involves writing. I’ll keep you posted on the rest.

Finding yourself, whether professionally, socially or sexually, all requires the same unblinking honesty. It’s not what you’re doing – at the office, or at home, or in the sack – it’s who you are that matters. This little book put that concept in sharp focus for me at the exact time I needed it.

As I write this, I’m not sure where my work life will be going. It may be a long haul to get where I need to be, and getting there may be messy. But I got where I needed to be as an out gay man, and if that didn’t kill me nothing will.

If you’re still struggling with your sexual identity – like I did for so long – this book may help. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer. I checked it out of the public library, but now I’ve ordered it from Amazon so I can write in the margins and highlight important passages. You might want to do the same.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/18/2011 11:03 PM

    Let Your Life Speak sounds like a good read. Guess I’ll get me a copy too. Thanks for the tip.

    • 01/19/2011 7:12 AM

      It’s not much of a read, which is part of why it’s so good. He gets in, makes his point, gets out, and you’re done. Love that.

  2. Mark Richard permalink
    01/18/2011 11:14 PM

    David, you’re such a gifted writer. I believe in you and know it will work out. By the way, I love, love that book. It really helped me.

    Blessings to you,

    Mark

    • 01/19/2011 7:10 AM

      Thanks, pal. Blessings back at you, too.

  3. 01/19/2011 3:50 AM

    I can’t remember how I got to your site in the first place, but I subscribed then and have enjoyed your posts ever since. My only wish is that you posted more often. What you write is good.

    I had a technical question: what do you use to send your posts via email? Feedblitz? Or, is it a function of WordPress.com? Something else? I currently use Feedburner but that only sends a daily digest and yours seems to be on an individual basis which I wish I could do.

    Best of luck on the job scene. It’s tough. And, yes, it’s important to know what you’re meant to do. Another small book that helped me along those lines was “Who You Were Meant to Be: A Guide to Finding or Recovering Your Life’s Purpose” by Lindsay Gibson–a book I’ve read and re-read more than 3 times.

    Hilton

    • 01/19/2011 7:09 AM

      Glad you’re here. Glad you like it. I’m going to post more often in the future. I promise.

      The email thing is a function of WordPress. It’s a Widget (under Appearance in the Dashboard sidebar) called Blog Subscriptions. You drag it to your blog sidebar.

      The job thing is going to be fine. I’m working on setting up a new mobile apps business that has some pretty amazing possibilities. Precarious at the moment, but I think it will be good long-term. It’s sort of weird to be doing this at my stage in life, but being able to field the balls life hits your direction is a big part of being a grown up.

  4. Kristy permalink
    01/19/2011 6:49 AM

    So sorry to hear your news…but then again, maybe I shouldn’t be, right? I have no doubt you will find your true calling. You probably needed to get rid of that job to open opportunities for something else to come in. The Universe WILL provide! Meanwhile, know that you are deeply loved and admired. X,O…Your pal, Kristy

    • 01/19/2011 6:55 AM

      Thanks, toots. It’s all good. Except for the part about being broke, I’m doing fine. And the possibilities of the new thing I’m working on are pretty neat. One foot in front of the other.

  5. Kristy permalink
    01/19/2011 7:55 AM

    Teavana is looking for a VP of Marketing in Buckhead. See Smartbrief on Leadership Job Board.

    • 01/19/2011 9:09 PM

      Thanks. I’m not sure I need to be in marketing any more. But I will definitely check this out. XOXO

  6. John permalink
    01/19/2011 8:07 AM

    As always David, great post. Loved it. I agree, you definitely need to keep writing. This may be a naive question but can one make a comfortable living doing freelance writing for popular magazines, periodicals, online serial publications, etc.? Take a look at the following website. Some of the articles are similar to your smart and breezy writing style. http://goodmenproject.com/ Take care, friend.

    • 01/19/2011 9:21 PM

      I like the Good Men site. Never been there before. Glad to know about it. And, yes, I think it’s the type writing I can do.

      Talking to friends and acquaintances write for a living – or try to – the consensus is that it is possible, but it can be difficult and a long haul to get there. So, I’m working on it getting the blogs going stronger, and then branching out. Still, the day-to-day requirements must be met short term. I’m also working on a mobile app project that I’m hoping will at least pay the rent, and possibly much more than that – freeing me to write. More later – off-blog.

  7. 01/23/2011 4:32 PM

    Hi David, Great post and I’m going to go look for Parker Palmer’s book. I’ve heard him recommended before, but never searched him out. While you are no doubt somewhat (to put it mildly) anxious about your career situation, I talk to you and read your posts and the main feeling I get is excitement for you. You get the chance to reinvent yourself at a time when most people are settling into the recliner. It is wonderful and inspiring and I know you’ll figure it out.

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