Heeding the Call
…by Prill Boyle
Have you ever wondered what your calling is?
A few weeks ago, I began a speech by asking how many members of my middle-aged audience still didn\’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up. After a few giggles, more than a quarter of the people in the room raised a hand.
Some might argue that if you haven\’t found a calling by the time you\’re in midlife, chances are you won\’t. Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap, goes even further. In a recent New York Times interview, she declares: “The notion that everyone has a calling, that everyone has a talent, that everyone has a passion, isn\’t true.”
I\’m not so sure about that. But even if she\’s right, before you put yourself in the “I don\’t have a calling” category, consider Adele Lerner. At age 60, her husband gave her a paint-by-the numbers set At 83, she earned a bachelor\’s degree in fine arts. Now 101, she\’s just finished her first art show.
Or take Mimi Weddell, who began her acting career at age 65. Now 93, she\’s still attending cattle calls, appearing in such films as The Thomas Crown Affair, Hitch, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Across the Universe.
You might not be as energetic, or as artistically talented, as these two women. But that doesn\’t mean that it\’s not worth exploring your own gifts and passions. Keep in mind that a passion can be something as simple as loving to garden or doing the New York Times crossword each day and that one\’s primary talent might be something as unpretentious as always seeing the best in people. One of my husband\’s many gifts, for instance, is being at ease with himself; and he puts that ability to good use with his hospice work. He doesn\’t claim to have a “calling,” yet he heeds the call of his heart. His mere presence makes others feel good.
There is no need, in other words, to strive to become someone you\’re not. But why settle for being less than you are?
Prill Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women (Emmis Books, 2004). To read more inspiring stories, tips, and anecdotes, go to Prilll\’s blog at defyinggravitynow.blogspot.com.