By Nathan Frank
Five years ago I had a vocational crisis on a train.
A friend and I were traveling the United States via trains, planes and automobiles. We visited who knows how many cities from Miami to San Antonio and Los Angeles to Vancouver.
It was a moody time of self-reflection that came hours after seeing a beautiful northern California coast-line that I began to panic about my future.
I was in the dark mountain trees of Oregon when I felt this painful urge to figure out my future. I was about to turn 22-years-old and I felt it was time to find direction.
The anxious feeling stayed in my gut for months after I returned to Saskatchewan, until finally I decided to try university. I knew I enjoyed writing and that I liked meeting interesting people — I would be a journalist and I would make a difference in the world. Well, at least that was my intent.
I heard a quote by the American writer and theologian Frederick Buechner, that became the hope for my career. He was quoted as saying: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
It’s an inspiring and lofty quote. The problem is, I have found connecting your gladness — or your passion — with the world’s deep need isn’t an easy thing to do. Making money, desiring comfort, and general laziness all get in the way.
It’s a noble pursuit and if more people pursue this holistic way of thinking, we would have a better world. Nonetheless, it’s a long road that puts too much pressure on you and me to do something big.
Another popular adage is to enjoy the journey along the road to the destination. This is wise and takes the pressure off of people like me who think that they need to make a big difference in the world, but don’t know how.
The adage also focuses on the community you live in and the people that surround you. It puts value in people, rather than who you are in the world.
Sometimes, I think, ambition can be blind. It’s a pursuit of something better, but disregards the blessings that surround us. It’s very “me-centric” — even if there are good intentions behind it.
Perhaps their needs to be balance in all virtues.
Overall, your twenties are a time where you discover that your values and decisions have consequences. If fulfilling your lofty ambitions at all costs is your aim, be ready to neglect relationships and family —and be ready to find yourself isolated. However, if your realize your family and friends are the most important part of your life, you may have to neglect some of your dreams.
Life is all about decisions.
Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.