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  • Writer's pictureMichael Jones

The Calling

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

Hozho - Walking in Beauty

“Navajos believe in hozho--walking in beauty. Their worldview sees everything in life as connected and influencing and being affected by everything else. A stone thrown into a pond has an effect on the life of an owl in the forest. A spoken word can alter events on the other side of the globe. All things possess spirit and power, so Navajos strive to live in harmony and balance with everyone and everything else. Their belief system sees sickness as a result of things falling out of balance. Sin is losing one's way on the path of beauty. In this belief system, religion and medicine are one and the same” says Native American author Tony Hollerman.

Finding our way on the path of beauty has become increasingly more difficult as societies have stopped journeying and became ‘civilized.’  To early native people there was no existential crisis of being. When one shifts from all-consuming survival to the more leisurely life of civility, there is time to ask more philosophical questions.

In Repetition, Kierkegaard's literary character Young Man ponders such questions:

“How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it and why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint? “

What Young Man and each of us seeks is a reason for being, a calling. It seems that we are all bound by the same physics and locked in our monocular perception of time. And it is this streaming time that sets us on our journey. If it is to be a journey, then we naturally ask, “What is my purpose in going” and all the other questions Young Man directs to a nameless universe.

Are we called to some greater life quest? For some the answer to that question comes thundering in when exposed to someone or something early on in life. There must be something in each soul that responds to key stimuli. Often times the first response elicited is a search and when we are able to formulate the question the search for our calling begins.

A pilot once explained how he became aware of his calling.  As a young boy he had a natural interest in gadgets and machines having been born and raised in a Pacific Northwest logging camp. At the age of 12 he was taken up on his first helicopter ride. 50 years later that moment is still exquisitely preserved in his mind. He knew the instant they lifted off that this was what he wanted to do forever. Nothing else mattered. Today he’s retired from a 28-year career as a helicopter pilot. It still defines who he is.

Why are callings so compellingly beautiful? Is it the perfect match between desire and ability?   Passion is a powerful motivator driving our desire to make things happen. It is no coincidence that the passionate people around us make things happen. They understand their calling, respond to it and therefore attract others to them. It is the Pied Piper effect in operation.

If you have ever wondered why people like to listen to music while they work, you know that certain kinds of music can spark creativity, make seemingly disconnected, non-related connections creating something entirely new.  Music paints pictures in our minds creating a flurry of emotion movies; short clips of pleasant even intense experiences. 

Some of the great music composers say they can see and hear the entire score pour out of their minds. This music while still in their heads is heard and enjoyed as it is quickly being transcribed to paper. In 1741 George Friederc Handel composed his great masterpiece, Messiah this way while locked in his study in just 24 days.

There is power in a calling that reaches far beyond a single lifetime. Callings bind us together allowing generations separated by hundreds or even thousands of years to evoke that power. Aristotle’s mind is linked to ours. DaVinci’s creativity and genius reaches across the centuries and communes with us. Ancient explorers whose names are lost in antiquity still touch us as we contemplate their voyages.

How durable will what we write and say be? Will a digital file encoded in the 21st Century be recoverable in the 24th?  We will never know. Callings are our legacy reaching across space and time. Perhaps the only enduring record of our existence rides on the side of a small spacecraft just now leaving our solar system. We can only wonder if someday our call to the cosmos will find a listener.

November 25, 2008

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