On Vocation and Let Your Life Speak

I’ve been in a ruminating space lately, somewhat personally in-process, allowing change to happen and setting the stage for personal evolution. What I’ve come to realize about my own process of growth is that there are equal parts taking the bull by the horns and just allowing things to happen.

LetYourLifeSpeakCoverAfter reading this post on Brain Pickings about the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation I was inspired to pick it up from the library on Friday. It’s a quick read and falls under the category of ‘intelligent self-help’, at least by my classification. Author Parker J. Palmer writes about finding one’s vocation rather than a career calling and describes it in a way that I’ve heard other authors describe as one’s ‘soul work’. Palmer writes from a Quaker background, so he’s not afraid to use the big ‘G’ God and talk about terms like the soul. My experience and background are different but I still found it very relatable.

It took me a couple of chapters to wrap my head around the concept of vocation, but it sort of clicked when I read:

My youthful understanding of “Let your life speak” led me to conjure up the highest values I could imagine and then try to conform my life to them whether they were mine or not.

Essentially, just because you admire the work that someone else has done doesn’t mean that it’s the work for you. I know I’ve been caught in that space before and it’s what has lead me to make some of my big life decisions. Palmer encourages us to reflect back on early moments of our life, even deep into childhood to mine for data. Something in there will give clues as to what your true vocation is…

Now I know that may sound a bit woo to some of you, so let me try to break it down in logical terms. While I believe that there’s a good dose of environment in shaping personality, there are certain things that are just part of our nature. Example: I was always quiet and reflective, even as a baby. So to use some of these early clues about yourself and your nature to discern what your most fitting vocation might be doesn’t feel like such a stretch. You’re basically sifting through your own life for answers to that deepest question: who am I and what am I doing here?

And if that still feels like too much woo, then tough, I like woo, so deal with it.


You tore a hole in my heart
and promised to fill it over 15 years.
But black light came early
and here I lay bleeding.
You come now in dreams,
in the corner of my near eye
I see you.
But we don’t talk
the way we used to do.
I can’t pick you up, warm and soft
and carousel the room for you.
I watch the stillness of a pile of toys
and the whisp of warmth
in the linen curtains
where you used to sleep.
Think of all the days since
that I haven’t kissed your head.

Hades Iscariot

and a poem, from these empty hands.
Charon guide me and protect me
across Cthulhu Regio to the fractured
planes of Sputnik Planum.
The blackened, vacant dunes hiss nitrogen
you are not here, you were never here.
The lapping waves that broke on the bow of our ship
are silent. Ever silent.


We list sideways in the open boat,
dreams, like scabs descend upon open wounds.
Wicker is the sound it makes when you stand up,
when you’re told to sit back down. Without
a shirt, you’re sucking drops of moisture from
a rag.
When the cage is upon you, when the ground
is melting into a rocking pool,
when tall blades of wild grass make your shins
seep thin laces of blood.
The moon is not an afterthought, then.
And you’re still feral, running naked,
and listing.


Listen to a recording of this poem here:

Slop the hog

A propeller’s hope of binded light
Like a whisper between nuns,
murmuration of the swallows,
a collection of vespers
walks out of the room.
There’s no candy on the shelves anymore
and the bins full of tangy metallic screws
are just enough to wet the tongue.
I’m lapsing now, just like the last time,
one last lilt and then.
And then you’re absolutely full of the bulk,
a spool of heavy chain, a slaughtered pig,