“Did you ever look around in your life and say, ‘How did I get here? And furthermore, where am I?” — Baxter Black
This is how Baxter Black, cowboy poet, begins his book Cactus Tracks & Cowboy Philosophy. His story of how he arrived at cowboy poetry is both simple and complex. In short, he got fired but kept up his previous engagements and in his words “the phone just never stopped ringing.” He is by far one of my favorite authors and writers.
“Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements!” — Peter Gibbons, Office Space
If you have never seen the movie Office Space, Peter Gibbons is stuck in a dead-end data job that he hates. The plot of the movie show him becoming the worst employee ever; yet, still getting promoted as others who work hard are laid-off. Peter’s speech above is the rallying cry for him and his friends. The movie ends with him happily shoveling the charred remains of his building (a fire set by a different disgruntled co-worker)…but he’s happy doing that job.
“West Philadelphia born and raised…out on the playgrounds where I spent most of my days…chillin’ out maxing relaxin’ all cool…shootin’ some bball outside of the school” — Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young performing the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (click here)
I love watching Jimmy Fallon. When I watch his show, I am amazed at his talent, giftedness, and passion all came together into this one career. His entire show is based around what he does best. I watch and think, “man I would love to go to dinner with this guy because he seems so real on TV.” He’d have the Taco Bell people rollin’ (yeah that is where we’d go) and we would just hang out…because that is what his show is about: hanging out!
How does a job/career like these come about? A place where calling, passion, giftedness, talent, and contentment all combine into a 40+ hour week?
The sad thing that struck me this week was that the search will never end. No matter where I look, how many W-2’s I turn in, or where my pay comes from, there will always be aspects of a job that is not fun. If someone tells you they “love everything about a job”, chances are they are lying too you. There are many jobs out there where people love 99% of it, but it still ain’t a 100 (unless you’re running a candy store in which case you are the exception and not the rule)!
Understanding the greater purpose at work is part of the discussion too. God created us to work! Figuring out the best, most effective way to serve God and others through 9-5 life is a challenge in and of itself. God also created us men to serve and provide for our families. I could drop everything now (first I would set my computer down) and go preach to the homeless, adopt every orphan, or go clean wells in Africa, but at some point collectors will be finding my wife and she will be one of the homeless that I am preaching too.
So all that to say, careers/job/callings are synonymous for the lucky few amongst us. I hope to join your ranks someday, but until then, I will continue exploring the very thing that my second grade teacher told me as I turned in a poster with about 10 careers on it for “what I want to be when I grow up day”: “You are a confused yet ambitious young man”. Thanks Mrs. Ritchie.