Even though I love my job, I have tried to ignore a subtle shift. I have always been driven by a sense of vocation and knowledge that I was doing what I was meant to do. Some people refer to it as a “calling”. Lately I have started to question if this is still true.
During my undergraduate days, I remember walking around campus reciting lines from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem to myself like a prayer or mantra, “What I do is me: for that I came.” Somehow I felt as if that one line held the power to guide me as I made decisions and would lead me to find my purpose and fulfillment. Early in my career, I believed that I was preparing for something I was supposed to do later. I am still learning. I learn everyday, but I sense that this time of preparation may be coming to a close. This idea is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.
I haven’t thought much about this poem in the past few years. I have been so focused on doing a good job, I haven’t paid much attention to the big picture. I know that I am at a point where I could easily settle in and ignore the pull to question and ultimately discover what the next bend in the road holds for me. This would lead to a pretty comfortable life and a nice retirement. Yet there is something drawing me back to this mantra of earlier days. What I do is me: for that I came.
I don’t want to miss something big and beautiful, something hairy and audacious. So I need to go back to the beginning and reconnect with the energy that propelled me to this point, staying tethered to that statement and hoping that clarity will come.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.
34. ‘As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme’
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.