He complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling and regretted having to devote so much attention to his day job. Story of your life? It certainly was of Kafka’s. A little fun fact: Franz Kafka’s works are filled with themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations. Real cheerful, don’t you think? All jokes aside, maybe that is why his works reflected pain and suffering which is still dominant in our lives.
Ever heard of midlife crisis? I guess this is where we choose between job and calling. Now, if it would have been this easy I am sure a lot of people wouldn’t be so ready to jump off the next bridge they come across. Well, as the saying goes, “Every sane man has thought about death.” Not something you want to tell a budding teenager, but that is the way it is, I guess. The problem is not just in the choice but realising what exactly the choices are too. To clear what is not clear and to find what cannot be found, that is the “Hamlet” kind of situation we are in.
To define calling as something different from a job would not be right, to define it to be the same wouldn’t be either. Then what is it? I don’t know. I am as confused as the kid next to me sucking on a lollipop and I am 19. What is a calling? Is it the inner voice that speaks out our own desire? Maybe. Does it have to always be about a job? No. So we got that cleared. Our career is not the same as our calling. But I think I can say it makes life easier when that happens and that is why most of us, even the most rebellious of us, try to connect the two. But you see, a calling is like a living thing - it grows, expands and contracts. Maybe your calling is to be a Buddhist, but perhaps there is also a part of you that tells you need a drink once in a while to cool off things. Your job, on the other hand, is something that lets you survive. To live or to survive? That is the question. That is the choice. But for the most stubborn of us, there is also a narrow path, where the two meet. It is the place only a few in a million have reached and thousands attain to reach. As some would say, “Either you choose out of the given choices or you create one yourself.”
So, which is better? Well, I think I better ask the kid sitting next to me as he licks his candy with ignorance and pleasure.
Oh! To be young and not to know, is not a joy, forever to behold.
Even though it might be true that as you squeeze more out of life, life squeezes more out of you. I guess the pleasure, the pain or whatever the hell it is, it is all in the journey. So I might not be as blissful as this kid, but I have my pleasures all the same. So let it squeeze you, burn you and extinguish you, because that is life. Life is in the choices we make and the consequences that come with them.
To quote Henry David Thoreau, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
“To suck out all the marrow of life…” as he says, maybe that is all we have to keep in mind. To live and survive and be all that our time on earth has to offer that come with our choices.