Hearing the call

I’m a young professional who has been questioning my purpose in life and, specifically, what my true calling is. I enjoy some aspects of my job, which I have been successful at, but ultimately, my level of satisfaction in this field is diminishing. Some people might grow accustomed to a particular job and settle down, but neither money nor status is a driving force in my life. I think about the book The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream, in which the character Santiago journeys from his village in Spain to the Egyptian pyramids in search of his “personal legend.” His direction came in the form of recurrent dreams and omens. How do I unlock the treasure chest that holds the answer to my own personal legend?

Start writing the story of your life. Don’t do it for publication. Do it as an exercise in self-examination. The process of writing about your personal experiences invites intimacy with your life. You will learn where God is calling you to serve and what excuses and dramas you create to resist following that call. Writing also can help you to identify the recurring mythological themes in your life. It reveals whether your choices are original and inspired or repetitive and destructive.

Once written, analyze the stories as if they are dreams. Note the major symbols and interpret them according to your own logic. Don’t use dream dictionaries or books about symbols. Develop your own. For example, a dream dictionary might list a dog as a symbol of loyalty. But if you have a history of dog bites, the dog is your symbol of fear.

If unlocking the treasure chest of your psyche seems daunting, remember that all major religions say the purpose of life is to love God, oneself and one’s neighbors. Living that path easily can consume a lifetime.

I am getting married soon to a man who’s been wonderful to me. He spoils me rotten emotionally, which is what I always wanted before anything else. He proposed to me a while ago, but he had no ring because he doesn’t have much money. He finally gave me a ring, but when I saw it, I guess I was disappointed. It was way too big for my finger, it was a little dull, and the jewels were purple. I always dreamed and believed that it would have been different. I did not expect something extravagant. I imagined something like a simple, silver band. I think I hurt his feelings. I tried to play it off, but he read right through me. What is wrong with me?

You’ve been seduced by advertisers, fairy tales and Hollywood script writers to believe that an engagement ring should fit your fantasy and finger perfectly. Reality, of course, says otherwise. It’s vital now that you address your personal expectations about money and material things. If he is without financial resources, but your unconscious desire is for material wealth, arguments are bound to ensue. That’s no way to begin a lifetime together. I suggest that you hitch up your heart and have a conversation with your man. Admit that you were disappointed because you had a picture in your mind of what you wanted, and it kept you from appreciating what he offered. Then, spend some time alone sorting through your other expectations (wedding ceremony, reception and honeymoon). Toss away those images that will inspire conflict. Focus instead on planning your life together. It’s the post-engagement, post-wedding life that matters.

Meditation of the Week

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it,” said Mark Twain. Are you awake enough to determine when your government deserves your support and when you need to demand a return to sanity?