“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” – Parker Palmer
I read this book a long time ago. Actually, it was the first book I read for the MPC. At the time I had just dropped out of my economics major with just 2.5 semesters left to go. Palmer’s small book about finding your vocation in life resonated with me. His words came through as honest, for he was a man who was writing about his biggest mistakes and darkest hours, all with the purpose of sharing what he had learned.
The book offers great insights into chronic depression, which the author suffered, as he tells the story of how when reaching rock bottom and getting back on his feet he could let go of all his judgements and assumptions and really start living life as it is meant to be. For yourself, and not for anyone else. For once you start living honestly, your vocation will find you.
He says he wishes that no one has to pass through times as dark as he had to, but if life drives us into that path, that there is also much to be gained. His vocation never would have found him otherwise. This attitude is one of the most remarkable lessons we can get from his writing. Seeing obstacles as opportunities is a skill we need to cultivate in ourselves if we want to live life on our terms, and not let life happen to us.
My favourite chapter was the one about seasons. They serve as an excellent metaphor for life and the obstacles we must overcome to find our vocations. I leave you with a quote from it:
“In my own life, as winters turn into spring, I find it not only hard to cope with mud but also hard to credit the small harbingers of larger life to come, hard to hope until the outcome is secure. Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility; for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger’s act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.”