Be Playful

Living Your Dreams: The Cost of Your Calling

Posted on: 22 July 2008

Photo by thp365.

I have recently been wondering what to do with my life.  My university degree has come to an end, and I am at a juncture.  I must make a decision about my new direction.  It is a place of boundless possibilities and opportunities.

There are so many things that I could do, places I could go, dreams I could follow.  And so what do I do?  I do nothing. I am paralysed by choice, by the fear to begin.  Faced by an empty canvas I dare not draw my first line in case it is wrong.

I am scared of failure.

I know my dreams, yet I have been failing to live up to them.  They seem too distant for me to begin making them a reality now, to take those first few steps in the right direction.

And yet, there is poetry in my soul, something that keeps prodding and prompting.  I listen to its words:

The aching dull pain
of the cost of your calling
that haunts you at night
and in moments of doubt.

I am realising that this post-university funk, this verging on the edge of depression, staring into the deep, dark pit of failure, is because I am refusing to face up to my calling, to my daily responsibilities and my long term dreams.

Even in this despair, I feel fortunate.  This depression that follows me everywhere, that lurks in the deepest part of my being, is a continual reminder to live up to my calling, to follow the calling of my destiny.  Though it is painful, it keeps me on track.  I wonder how many of us run from this pain, scared to look back upon it and realise all the dreams we have left to rust and fester in the dirt.


Photo by ReefRaff.

Many self development blogs and books highlight the importance of living your dreams.  According to these blogs, your main responsibility is to find out what your dreams are and strive to live them.

I agree that every person should take responsibility for the course of their life, that every person has a responsibility to pursue their dreams.

However, I also think that there are greater responsibilities, that each person has a number of more important callings.

Daily Responsibilities

  • Getting up early
  • Doing the dishes after dinner
  • Taking small steps towards your dreams
  • Work – earning money
  • Engaging in a spiritual practice
  • Doing something you love
  • Resting

Relationship Responsibilities

  • Keeping in touch with friends
  • Telling family members that you love them
  • Taking responsibility for the well-being of family and friends who are unable to care for themselves
  • Quality time with loved ones

World Responsibilities

  • Working for social justice
  • Praying for change
  • Ensuring you are not complicit in injustice
  • Random acts of kindness

Dream Responsibilities

  • Knowing your dreams and goals
  • Breaking your dreams down into short term goals
  • Doing something each day to make your dreams a reality

Some responsibilities will take priority over others.  Personally, I place relationship responsibilities first, followed by world responsibilities, then daily responsibilities, and lastly dream responsibilities.  To put it slightly differently, I allow my relationships with family and friends and my commitment to a better world shape the direction of my dreams.  So, for example, I choose not to fly when travelling, but instead to take the train or cycle to visit somewhere local.

Your Thoughts

What responsibilities do you place first in your life?

Have you ever run from your calling?  How did it haunt you?  Are you still running?

Please share you thoughts in the comments section below.


15 Responses to "Living Your Dreams: The Cost of Your Calling"

This is a really thoughtful and honest blog. It is great that you are writing again David, I have missed your blogs.

What a thoughtful and honest post. If it’s any comfort David you’re not alone in wondering about those big questions and trying to make sense of the different, powerful emotions that thinking about them throws up in us.

I’m not sure I’d say I have an order of responsibilities. More trying to keep them in balance – in a circle round about me, rather than a linear order.

I guess the thread that runs through them is trying to be true to myself and my values. Maybe that’s because I don’t – yet anyway – have a calling.

Good luck in your wondering and wandering 🙂


My philosophy is “Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing. Find what you love to do and find a way to share it with others.” It’s worked quite well for me. Good luck, and welcome back!

Hi David,

I’ve missed your posts, and I’ve missed the clowns.

We all have times in our lives where we reach a fork in the road and don’t know which way to go. You’ll have to trust in yourself and in a Higher Power to guide you down the right path.

One of my favorite quotes is, “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step”. I pray you find the courage to take that first step into a future where all of your dreams become a reality.

Blessings, David!

Thank you. It’s great to be writing again, although it takes self discipline.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and comfort. Knowing your values is so important – I was fortunate enough to have someone help me find my values when I was 20.

I think you’re right about responsibilities not being in a hierarchy – but equally I think it’s good to know which you prioritise. For me I find it helpful to put family time above anything else.

That is a brilliant philosophy. I try to remember to be grateful that I am fortunate enough to be able to think about and choose what I love to do – rather than scraping by an existence day by day as so many billions of people in the world have to.

Thanks for the welcome back, I know that four months is a big sticking point for many bloggers so I am going to try my best to push through it.

Thank you, that’s a great quote for where I am right now. I also like the Yogi Berra quote: “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there”.

I’ve been at this same fork before and all the advise I am equipped to give is this: I have discovered there are no wrong steps. The only wrong move, is standing still. You learn from everything you do. Sure, you might not advance as fast you might like because of one of those steps, but you will find the path you long for soon enough. Standing still is the only losing game. Be playful! Experiment with your life a little. Take chances. It won’t hurt much.

Don’t over analyze it. Trust your gut as much as you dare. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. Be present. Corny? Perhaps, but those are the absolute best pieces of advice I have been given.

Wow–I’ll say it again, even though others in the comments have said it: this was an amazing piece of honesty. I loved it.

I really appreciate the idea that while we have responsibilities to ourselves, but we can’t forget our responsibilities to others. It’s not all about us.

My dreams have changed a great deal since graduation, but my values have not. I think you can veer off the path quite a bit and still find ways to embrace your dreams–and your responsibilities. In my case, who knew that when I left teaching, I’d find better and farther reaching ways to reach kids?
I largely agree with your idea that it’s often a good things when family and world values guide your dreams, not the other way around.

Thank you! I think your advice is brilliant – I didn’t think of corny once until you said it! I have taken it to heart and will keep being playful. Sometimes I wonder if I set this blog up to remind myself to be playful more than anyone else. I think perhaps I did…

Thanks for the encouragement and for enjoying this post. My dreams from year to year change a lot too – but always they pull me in the same direction, which I think is my calling. Perhaps I should write a post on the difference between dreams and calling.

I will join in the welcome back. I am a subscriber so I was very happy to see you in my reader.
I think it is hard on youself to put things in a linear line and especially to place the importance of others above taking care of yourself. Common, but dangerous. If you aren’t taken care of, you will eventually burn out and have nothing left to give the people you love or the community at large.

Things must always remain in balance. Allowing our fears to serve as the basis to go focus on something else is really just a distraction.

Maybe you just aren’t in tune to what it is yet. Maybe you do need more time to find your path. But if you HAVE found your passion, move through the fear and go for it. Ask yourself what failure you will fear the worse five years from now, giving it your best shot and learning from your mistakes or never having the courage to try at all.

Aloha David, you take me back to thoughts of my own college days, and it strikes me that I never had a break in the action like this: Since I worked throughout getting my degree, and in the field of my choice, I just kept going. However you also cause me to think of my own children, for they are soon to graduate as well: One will keep going, just as I did, the other has the “world as her oyster” so to speak, but having too many choices can be so unsettling -even when most of the choices seem so good!

As a parent, it is such a difficult thing to advise them on responsibility, for they both feel that calling strongly – as you seem to, and on the one hand I want them to own up to it, but on the other, I want them to remain as free as possible resisting it for as long as possible.

I think at the end of the day the best you can do is be true to yourself and not listen to anyone else! Listening for one’s calling is a good way to put it.

I can’t count all the times I’ve felt this way.

A year ago, when my employer announced that they were closing the site and gave us all 60-days notice, it kicked off a period of feeling like my life was in suspended animation that lasted even after the last day.

On a smaller scale, I feel this way every time I get a new notebook–I hesitate to write on the first page, out of fear that I’ll screw it up.

There are strategies that work for notebooks–getting one with removable pages, so that you can fix mistakes, having several notebooks, so that you don’t feel like any one is such an important undertaking–that simply don’t work for life.

With notebooks, I’ve finally reached the point where I can be bold and just start writing. I don’t doubt that the same strategy is the right one for life. That still doesn’t make it easy.

[…] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by Briankim67 on 2008-08-23 Living Your Dreams: The Cost of Your Calling – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by b2 on […]

[…] n. 1. the bottom of your garden; 2. anywhere you choose freedom, n. embracing your limitations as […]

Once I wanted to take a trip to see something that meant alot to me. After I did so I realized that the best part of the trip was not the destination, but getting there. All of the things I saw and experienced on the way there and back was the real payoff.
Your life is not a destination, but a jouney made up of many individual days. Take them for what they are and glean all you can from each of them and thank your Creator for each and every one. I’m 56 now and this is what I have learned.
Good Luck. Ken

[…] n. 1. the bottom of your garden; 2. anywhere you choose freedom, n. embracing your limitations as […]

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