Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Why I Love 'The West Wing': Thoughts on Life and Vocation

It’s something my friend Leech and I have commented on many times. We COULD mention lots of things about characters and plotlines and humour and intelligence. But we don’t. Not often anyway. What we find ourselves commenting on is a really quite specific feeling that we get while watching Sam write, CJ brief, Josh quip, Toby rant, Leo advise and Bartlett be Bartlett, all while walking down a corridor and talking impossibly quickly and intelligently.

Leech will lie back on the sofa with a blanket wrapped around him and say, as if noticing it for the first time, “It just makes you WANT to be really busy! It makes being busy and working ALL the time seem...cool!”

Now, let’s be real here. We don’t exactly sit with Josh while he reads through that hefty briefing document or that tome-like bill. We just swing by when he is given it and then a bit later when he has an opinion to share. So The West Wing is kind of cheating here by showing busyness without the actual work. But, that being said, it still makes you think about what things you would be excited about sleeping at the office for. What matters enough for you to embrace West Wing levels of busyness?

Questions of vocation float around when you are at school but it’s not really until graduation ushers in what people like to call ‘the real world’ that those questions really discover their bite. When you watch an episode of The West Wing you spend time with characters that were clearly born to do what they are sleeping at the office for. Lots of people more gifted with words than I have come up with pithy notions of what vocation looks like – “when your greatest gift meets the worlds greatest need” or “the thing you absolutely HAVE to do”. There’s a lot of self-awareness needed and as you think through who you were born to be it can be pretty hard to come to terms with who you actually became instead. But, slowly, maybe very slowly, perhaps you also get to feel out what it is you should spend your working day doing.

On a recent trip to the mountainous wonder and thin air of Colorado I was encouraged to head off by myself for a bit one afternoon and spend a little time listening to what my Father might have to say. I sat on a grassy slope for a while breathing in the beauty, smiled at the strangeness of a single yellow flower which had somehow managed to grow strong and bright out of a parking lot’s asphalt and marvelled at a hummingbird which hovered beside me as I made my way through some brush. A thought that slipped in to my mind and allowed me to poke it around for little bit was that these creations of God – the mountains, the flowers, the birds, the breeze – none of these things spent their time complaining about the difficulties of finding their place in the world. Each knew its place exactly. And that surety suggested bliss to me. And yet there was something else, because while each of us in that scene - the mountains, the little yellow flower, the hummingbird and myself – were created by the same God, only one of us was created with the capacity of knowing him. Me. So, borrowing from the old words of the catechism, the hummingbird’s existence glorified God but it could not enjoy him forever.

Where there is love there is free will. Where there is free will there are options. And wherever options exist so does confusion and doubt and risk and mistakes. But before that starts to look depressing walk back through it again and find yourselves with love. A neat little package, useless unless you open it but messy the moment you do. I would like to conclude that after a few more walks and some careful pondering I discovered the confidence of a hummingbird about who I was and what I should be doing. I am not there yet, if that is even a place that exists outside of fictions like The West Wing. Where I am is trying to live in the light of the realisation that there are things that I love doing and that I should be doing them more. It’s not about dream chasing and doesn’t have to be about employment. It’s about being a little bit more like...well...me. And that’s the only place I can think to start.

What would you be prepared to sleep at the office for? And, even if no-one’s about to give you the office space, what stops you from doing it?


“What’s next?”

(Originally posted on the Upside Down Motive site - somewhere you should think about checking out...)

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...