Personal renewable energy plan

Ambition takes willpower
and constant applications of energy
to stay on a perceived bearing;
but a serious vocational calling demands a constant attention to the unknown gravitational field that surrounds us and from which we recharge ourselves, as if breathing from the atmosphere of possibility itself. 

David Whyte

We’re all exhausted. We are so tired of being tired! So many layers of fatigue that compound each other draining our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional capacities. Hours blur into days and weeks and months and years and it accelerates. Take it from an old timer. It never slows down. And yet there’s this deep longing for something more that contributes to our fatigue. Our energy is depleted. We are in the midst of a massive energy crisis. Not fossil fuels (although I did see a sign for gas @ $8 per gallon yesterday!) I am talking about our inner fuel that is required to avoid having our dreams fossilized. How do we generate energy to recharge our batteries to not just do what we have to do to survive, but we must do to flourish?  

We tend to go about re-energizing in the wrong way. The way we seek rest and relaxation is often about escape. Taking short or long breaks from our lives. From the intensity and unforgiving nature of “work”. While this process of taking pit stops on the rat racetrack is valuable, it can miss the real sources of renewal and energy. Energy, peace and rest will not come solely from beachside resorts, just “doing nothing”, sleeping in or a quiet staycation away from the chaos of your office. Don’t get me wrong, we need breaks. We need to get out of the office and away from work. But I am focused here on energy generation. On getting you more than a breather, but to breathe life into you!

As Mssr. Whyte says above, “…a serious vocational calling demands a constant attention to the unknown gravitational field that surrounds us and from which we recharge ourselves…” Energy precious energy comes from a “serious” vocation itself. From the root vocare—to be called or a calling. Your vocation is your work, your day job that YOU called, your external calling. You are being defined by this work whether you like it or not. It is the way you are making a living, growing, and building a life. Your vocation may not be as serious as you hope it will be.

We need an avocation too! Most people miss this. Avocation, often the stepchild to vocation, is the internal calling, the calling from within. Some people mistakenly think an avocation is a “hobby.” Hobby has its roots in hobbyhorse and toys and has always been associated with an activity for pleasure. And literally was used for activities “that didn’t go anywhere.” You ride the hobbyhorse for fun only.

But avocation is super different. The calling from within, maybe the most important calling. Things you love doing, you are really good at, that generate flow and a loss of time. Things you have always wanted to do. Entrepreneurial, artisanal, athletic or causal things that have consistently been part of your heart-mind conversation. Things that you have been dreaming about since you were a kid……

It’s not a hobbyhorse we’re talking about something more fundamental, essential tied to the fiber of your being. And it’s a thread that needs to be followed. Woven into the fabric of one’s life. It is this weaving, this strengthening of two or more worlds that enlivens one’s journey.

Inactivity, or distractions, are not sources of energy. They are just carbs when there is a hunger for protein. We all know that when you sleep 12 hours or that you lay on the couch or you binge 1000 shows or you play video games for 15 hours, you will not feel energy at the end. You will just be full of emptiness and feel more distant from who you are. That separation disconnects us from reality, the reality of our dreams, ambitions, and ideals.

The intention is to integrate our vocational and avocational lives. It is this marriage of vocations that energizes. The ability to move from one to another. To have a place to go, another workshop to pursue one’s craft and lose oneself. To balance and enhance the experience of living. To continuously feed the deep quest for fulfillment and expression that lurks within us.

I can hear some of you saying, “What are you talking about?” Yet there are many that fully understand.

If you are lost— all I can say here is to start on a quest to discover your calling. It may be where your ancestry meets your ambition. It may be where your “hobbies” meet your horizon. It is in you, part of your DNA, that is muffled and stifled by the expectations of others, the oppression of conformity and the domestication of difference.

Start by using words. Write them down. It’s a random process. There is no fixed recipe or set of steps. You need to dedicate time to the discovery process. You may already know it’s something that’s hidden on a shelf that you don’t talk about. Or something that needs to be tested that you hardly think about. But you need to spend a little time every day, every week. Dedicate time to understanding it. To unseal the orders within you as Kierkegaard espoused.

It is this ability to toggle from vocation to avocation that allows the mind to mend and the heart to heal.

I talk to people who have incredible rules about the boundaries of email and work. These can be smart ways to make priorities and create some balance. But it can also be a way of protecting themselves from what they don’t want and not a strategy to engage themselves in what they do want. When we find activities and avocations that we say are important we get stuck on the math. For it takes subtraction to do addition. In the limited time we have it requires removing things that are filling the time and replacing them with sources of energy. We will always be busy. We will always fill our time. But are we filling our time with what energizes us? Being busier can be energizing.

Of course, more exercise, nutrition, better sleep will get you precious energy. To do what? Live longer? I know vegan triathletes who are stressed out because they missed their yoga sessions. 😊

Energy starts with the conversation between what we are doing, what we love to do and what we want to be. Energy is derived from doing it.

To solve our energy crisis, we need to help one another. Stop filling our time with snack food activities. Don’t expect a pit stop to fix things. We need vocations instead of vacations.

It is our personal sustainable renewable energy plan.

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thanks for reading. John

Click on this image and follow it to the brilliant NYT animation created by Tala Schlossberg about our obsession with endings.

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