I finished reading this book yesterday. IDEO has been on my watchlist (yearn list) for a long time. Getting to read David & Tom’s book was long due too. Just after I declared that it was done, my husband asked me how I liked it. Didn’t I already have creative confidence or was this book going to be a game changer? In a few moments, we proceeded to have a fight about it.
I exaggerated, “it’s the best book I’ve read in a while.” “Really?”, he questioned, not believing me. “Ok, maybe not the best ever”. I tried laughing it off awkwardly. “What’s the one thing you learned?”, he proceeded. “How to find my calling.” This irritated him. I rambled unabated for a few minutes. That irritated him further. “You can’t answer my questions.” I tried describing it again.
“You don’t know what you want?”, he said sharply, still eyeing Brazil’s lackluster performance on the TV with one eye. “No, it isn’t that. There are times I may feel desperate. And I don’t want to do things that make me unhappy, only because I am so desperate at that time.” (I was thinking about my difficulties with saying no. He was bored). We ended it there. After a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t done feeling out the conversation. “I thought you were a bit harsh with me.” He was done. I was making it difficult for him to speak with me. He could not state what he felt because I accused him of being harsh every time. And finally, I had killed his perfectly nice rib-and-red-wine filled Sunday evening. I just went to bed. “Go, walk away.” “Ok.”
Differentiating between a job, a career and a calling
My husband is many things, but he is not unfair. I hadn’t clearly laid out the differences that the book talks about. A job that brings you the money, a career that drives your ambition and brings you the money and a calling which came from within. I have had jobs, I do have a career. But I still question my calling, in my 30s. Calling almost has religious connotations (and roots). It comes from old Norse “Kalla” and to me sounds almost Sufi. My calling to travel to the other end of the world. My calling to live in Chisti’s dargah. It something deeper, visceral, soulful and rooted. Many people find their calling when they’re young. Many others wander along for a while.
I have ideas, but I am not sure that I have exhausted my yearning and effort to make that true discovery. I feel my calling also suffers from taste and a need for permissions. Can I permit myself to have a calling which benefits me alone? Can I permit myself to have a calling that has no social purpose? Do I need to make a dent in the universe? Who will pay me for my calling? Do callings belong only to the overtly rich (with backups) or the overtly poor (with nothing to lose). Or are those just excuses? Can my calling simply be to live? Be and it is (Kun, faya kun.)
How to find your calling (or creative confidence)
Creative confidence allows you a simple mechanism to do that. For a month, David rated days on a scale. And wrote down the one thing that made him happy or made the day worth it. In a month’s time, he started observing patterns. Things that made him feel more purposeful. Things that created meaning. He understood his alignment towards being more hands-on and spending time in his workshop. Slowly, he started taking time out to do that. And in effect, create days that were happier and more fulfilling. Maybe it’s not the calling, but isn’t life’s true purpose to find more happiness? I am a big believer in small, intentional steps. I feel they allow brains to feel more aligned towards what we truly seek in life. And at the very least, stay happy in the moment.
“If you can’t find it till 34, you think a project will help?”
“Did that gratitude project help you?”, he asked, annoyed with my childish petulance. “No.” I was annoyed back. But it did. I started drawing again. Using my hands to draw and make mistakes, while not concentrating on a machine that automatically gives me an out with a delete button, is helpful. You touch what you create. It gives me a feeling of tangibility and I take time out to draw these days. That in itself is a gift and a creative expression.
I am not convinced I could rate my days like this. Perhaps the answers will only just validate the patterns I already know. Am I ready to find my calling? I do feel ready to start sifting my days towards what works for me and what doesn’t. I believe in the power of intentionality in words. Even if, editors on the other side of the world accuse me of being light and ask for more heft. I feel the heft in your soul doesn’t need to prove itself. It needs you to create a path through which it can express itself.
I could hear him turning and sighing in bed miffed with the summer sound of varied cicadas. I carefully put my hand on his ears. “Why are you blocking my ears?” “You have a big mouth and small ears,” I said, cooingly. He put his hands on my ears and told me that he had downloaded the app on freeletics.
And this, above, I was dreaming about another one on my secret list. I also wanted to paint like her.