Answering the call is hard

"He who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is." - Meister Eckhart

I unabashedly love Liz Gilbert. She just did a two part interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, and the first part aired last weekend and is now online for all to see. I highly recommend you watch it. (The second part is coming up this weekend.) This first half is focused around the topic of figuring out what your "quest" in life is, why you're here and how to make it happen.

This part really resonated with me:

Isn't it true though, I knew this for myself, when there came a time for me to leave Baltimore, and everybody around me was saying, "No, there's no way you're gonna succeed." I didn't hear it as much as I felt it - I felt that if I didn't move, from where I was, for whatever I was being called to, here obviously, in Chicago... I felt that if I didn't do it, a part of me would die. I felt that I would just sort of like, not physically die, but that parts of me would sort of shrivel up in some way, and that I would not be emotionally, spiritually, myself. Did you feel that?

(Laughing) Yes!

You felt that too?

(Laughing) Yes, absolutely! And I had a friend who said to me, "If you stay on this path, you might
actually die. Like, you might get very sick, you might crash your car into a tree, like, you might get so depressed that, you know, you might literally die if you don't change."

Really... That is, I think, what makes people sick...they just, parts of them just...

You just atrophy.

Atrophy, yeah.

You die in pieces. And we've all seen people who have sort of shut down in pieces and died. And also that feeling that you kind of don't have a choice, right? I used to have the same thing, when I used to tell people, when I was a teenager, that I was going to be a writer... Nobody ever said, "Oh yeah, that's where the big money is, kid! Follow that! That's an easy path, you'll get there!" No one ever in history said that.

It didn't matter what they said, because I had no choice. I knew, this is what I came here to do. I don't /have to/ succeed. Succeeding means answering the question, following the quest...wherever it ends. The point is, did you try? Did you show up?

Yes, and a part of the call, a part of what you make so clear is that everybody gets called. You can choose to answer it or not, once you do answer it, you're gonna be faced with obstacles and challenges, and people who look like friends that are not.

Oh, it's not
easy. I mean, I think what I really try to communicate with people is that we're a little bit delusional in this society, the way we sell changing your life as if it's something fun. What I say, is if you're doing this, if you're going to answer the call, and you're going to transform and you're gonna change...

And really step up to who you're going to be in the world...

Get ready, cause...

Get ready!

It is
not a day at the beach. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be hurt. Expect to feel lost. Expect to feel despair. Expect to be double guessing yourself at every turn. They don't call it "the road of trials" because it's a joy ride! Joseph Campbell called [this phase of the hero's journey] the road of trials because that's exactly what it is. But every single one of those obstacles, challenges, and temptations that you have to learn to manage will help you gain your talents and powers, and shed your fears, so that when it comes time for the climactic scene in every hero's journey, which is the battle, you're ready. Because every single one of those obstacles prepared you for the battle. Then you lose your fear, and then you become the hero.

I felt that feeling years ago - that if I didn't do what I was being called to do, that part of me would die. But then I didn't do it. Sure, because I was young and felt powerless and had been convinced that what I wanted was wrong.

But I didn't do it. I didn't do everything I could to pursue what I knew was right for me. 

And I do feel like part of me died. And I did get sick. And I did atrophy. I turned into a shell of a person as I withdrew from the world. For 15 years, I didn't try. I didn't show up.

Eventually, about a year and a half ago, I woke back up. I started to hear the call again. But it's not the same - I'm not the same person anymore, as much as I'm trying to find my way back to my "true" self. I don't know if I have it in me to show up, to really show up. I try sometimes, with the energy I have, but I'll admit that I often don't feel seen or heard, and it's much too easy to just retreat back into the shadows. It's safer there. I already have so much to deal with, why invite more challenge on myself?

It's safer to just secretly take some freelance work that I don't give a shit about, so I can try and build my financial stability back up after two and a half expensive years of illness. It's safer to believe that I'm just fooling myself trying to change careers (to art, of all things) when I'm still sick, and now I'm "old" too (at least compared to when I gave up half my life ago), and I'm still really broken in ways that are hard to fix.

It's a real struggle to just show up and try, and I'm still not doing the best job of it if I'm really honest with myself. That's it, no happy anecdotes from me today - watch the video for that:

Update: Part two of the Liz Gilbert interview is up now, it's all about relationships and how to get on your quest. And I didn't realize there'd be a part two, but part two of my own post about answering the call came the very next day...


Hi I had a similar thing... while my career around the first half or so (I'm not quite 50) revolved around art, it was the wrong kind.. coerced as most are to get a job that pays and to live.. I got into a relationship and a marriage and had a kid, during this whole time, Graphic Design just wasn't doing it for me certainly not financially and not fullfilling to me on any other level, then after the earthquakes (Christchurch, New Zealand) I was laid off and sometime after that, my marriage ended.. so being unable to find work anywhere in design and not seemingly employable for anything else on top of my age, I decided to breathe deeply suck my gut in and completely reboot my life! as a working fine artist! I strongly feel this is my calling.. where before doors remained closed and life seemed hard, now there's a flow opportunities are coming up, meeting new people, perhaps the right people.. and like was said above.. it doesn't matter whether I succeed or fail... am doing what I am here to do.. it makes my soul sing.. to paraphrase Jim Carrey if I have to fail I'd rather fail at doing something love... financially and logistically it might be hard but then so are the other avenues, but there's still the drive to keep at it - doing it, moving forward but I still have trouble with procrastination and getting started.. I am fine once I am started.. it's worse that as I am doing a distance learning art course I have to maintain so many hours.. but I have faith that I'll make it.... somehow.. I am also fortunate that I have supportive family and firiends - and on a closing note... as was said above - I didn't really have a choice! but for me it's a good choice and feels right through my whole being! sorry I have rambled a bit but I think I needed to get this out! Cheers

Hi Piers - 

I welcome rambling! I relate a lot to what you say about your career path. Early on, I started in towards a career in lighting design for theater, as kind of a "practical" way to stay in the creative world somehow. Unfortunately, I wasn't phyiscally built for that kind of work (insufferably long days and nights), and it was short-lived. But if I'm honest, the whole time, I was just placating myself (and the naysayers) when I really wanted to be doing visual arts.

It makes me hopeful to hear that things have started to flow for you as you've gone down this road. I really hope if I persist, I will find the same thing happens. It does feel, in a sense, unavoidable. I tried to do everything but this for 15 years, and it just always seems to come back around. Time to stop procrastinating under the guise of being realistic. 

ps. Interesting and detailed work you do! :)

Hi - it looks like you had it a bit rougher than I did... in hindsight I should have done and Art Degree after High School rather than go to a Polytechnic to do Design (Visual Communication) though having said that the first couple of years weren't too bad as I was learning on the job and generally enjoying it... but then I tried to get a job in another studio to improve my work and to do work for better clients, unfortunately it never happened and things just got worse and of course the longer time went the less likely of finding somewhere else to go, then of course the age thing kicked in. My ex wife even said that after that two year mark I should have just walked and gone to Uni... of course it's hard to do that when you've then got a dependant wife and a little later a child.

The good news is that freelance design production work for my old boss is helping me along with some extra cash.. and it's easy work so it's not impinging too much on my fine art work. The last year in the full time course was just trying to find myself, find what mediums I liked and created my best work with.. I have a lot of energy in my hands and my current work is the result of nights watching TV and doodling but now much more refined and becoming more surreal - I am hoping to use photography to provide a basis for further development in including more realistic objects and landscapes in my work as opposed to just a flow of shapes and lines etc.. I'm actually about to have a go at using oils for the first time! I have no idea how it will work out, but I'm hoping it will as I'm quite sure that oils will suit the way I like to create.

But I'm having a fairly hard time trying to get into a routine or groove to get more work out and put more work in during the day.. it's something I need to be more disciplined about and work harder to just get into, because I'm fine once I'm started I'm fine..

Apart from the issues of getting work done, I'm finding that there's people out there who like and respect my work and are supporting me in different ways. There have been no blocks in getting things I need.. tools, materials and the like.. I'm quite a spiritual person and I really believe that once you're doing what you're supposed to be doing the "Universe" will deliver what you need, when you need it for you to continue and grow to do what you are here to do... if that makes sense. One just needs to keep the faith that it's all going to work out - I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my divorce.. in hindsight I think that my relationship was another blockage to my correct path.. and so it goes, I've learned at the moment to take life day by day - week by week.. I now have very little material possessions, only what I really need. I have a strong feeling I'm moving on from where I am, but I have no idea, when, where, how or who with.. I have ideas of what I want to do and a BIG Dream of where I want to be.. but I just have to keep making the work and see where the path leads.

I'm sorry to note that you have the added complication of medical issues.. I'm sure that (I'm sorry if you've written this before) creating artwork must help with the conditions.. You just can't give up!!

Thank you again for the kind comments about my work.. I'm still experimenting and evolving .. I like your drawings and paintings too!!! the pen line work especially... Cheers

Well, we can only know when we know, right? ;)

I was very lucky and thankful to have this new group to share with yesterday, as it helped me get sent on a new part of my journey. The difference a day can make, life is always full of surprises...

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