Vocation and Interest


I’m still not ready to write about the wedding.  Not that there was anything wrong with it, mind, though from our pov, it’s half a wedding, the other half waiting now about a month to be finalized (legal/religious, separate for various convoluted reasons. Also to allow different sets of grandparents to be present.)

OTOH, traditional and important (traditional and old is not the same thing as outdated and not necessary. These rites exist among various cultures because they lend solidity and …. heft to structures.) the wedding is in a way superfluous.  In good relationships “that which G-d has joined together, no man may tear asunder” is already accomplished before the ceremony makes it official. The ceremony is a reinforcement of the existing bond, a telling the world “Look, this exists. You must respect it and help us respect it.”

It was that way with us, and I feel it is that way with these two.  Not that you are as joined together on your wedding day as you’ll be, mind. Marriage is in a way the process of growing together into something bigger than the sum of its parts, something that when it’s good propagates, grows and brings light to dark corners.

Nor will a marriage solve every issue with the individual or for that matter the couple.  Dan and I for instance, as a mighty unlikely combination.  Our close friends, who knew us well, gave our marriage maybe a year, with good weather and a following wind.  This was mostly because we’re in some ways very different and both very, very, very stubborn. Which is why in the first year of marriage we argued a lot, and I packed my bags to leave at least once a month.  But I never left. And after a while we found coping mechanisms that allowed us to disagree without getting angry at each other (we’re not perfect.  Snipping still happens when very tired and overwhelmed.  But it’s snipping, not real division.  Heck. I’m much harsher on myself.) And eventually what evolved between the two of us was much bigger than the sum of its parts and allowed us to be and achieve what neither of us could do alone.

Anyway, so that’s, I suppose some thoughts on marriage.

But it brings us to a whole other thing.

I don’t feel these two so much met as they found each other, as if the whole thing was pre-written, predestined, since the beginning of time.  As indeed my marriage.

It’s not just hind-sight, i.e. my saying “this was so unlikely” (even if felt like someone was chasing and cornering us and leading us to each other, and taking unwonted pains to bring us back together after we squandered our first chance) “that it must have been meant to be.”  Random chance can produce something that is unlikely but works.

And it’s not just survivor bias.  It’s not going “I’d never have been happy with anyone else.”  There are a few people I could have been happy — in a completely different way — with.  I’d be a different person, now, and arguably, so would they.

It’s more a feeling that Dan and I didn’t so much meet as recognize each other.  I feel the same way about our daughter in law.  When I looked into the future of our sons, I knew there was someone (if they were very lucky) they’d eventually marry who would make them … more themselves, the selves they were supposed to meet. And when we met our daughter in law we didn’t so much feel “Oh, this is one who could–” as “Hi, we’ve been waiting to meet you for 27 years.”  (Which btw was never a feeling with other girls. Even when we would have liked them be the one.)

Anyway, this brings us to “you’re destined to do this.”

There is a lot of nonsense about “what you’re meant to be” which almost exactly parallels the nonsense around “true love.”

We grow up with the idea that there is not only something we’re “meant to do.” (An idea that’s easier for religious people, as it means fitting into a grand plan, but perhaps those not religious can view it as finding their optimal place in an organized chaos pattern.) But we also grow up with the strange idea that once we find the “destiny” be it in love or in occupation, it will be effortless, we’ll never look back, and we’ll be happy.  There will be a song in our heart, joy in our every day, bluebirds will come out to do the housework and mice to do the sewing.

Maybe it is that way for someone?  Maybe even a lot of someones.  As someone who has a vocation and a marriage she feels was if not predestined at least inspired by the Author, and who has sons (well, one son. One down, one to go) and friends and relatives with the same two gifts… I’ve never seen it happen that way.

Often, in fact, the predestined relationship, the one that matters, the vocation that you do, sometimes against your own will, is not birdsong and happiness, but a struggle, everyday, by your fingernails.

Okay, not the relationship.  At least after the beginning it should smooth out and you should have mutual support and comfort as well as everything else.  Though sometimes it gets scary.  When one of us is ill or we have to be apart, for instance, we always fight. Hold that thought.

It is the same with my vocation — for my sins — of writing.  I’ve tried to escape it by every means possible, up to and including convincing myself I can no longer practice it.

It doesn’t work.

Now, when this happens, and feeding into the idea that there is more to this than who I am or my self-satisfaction, is that whenever I try it and get my head to a space where I don’t allow myself to write, stuff starts happening that is extremely unlikely to borderline bizarre to push me back to writing.  Writing fiction, specifically.  And lately, as some sort of inner voice has insisted, writing fiction for indie.

This is how I ended up double-fired (well, laid off in a case) in December and since then everything including things not remotely connected to me have conspired to get me to put butt in chair and write fiction to publish indie.  I could detail the sequence, but not without getting into mucky stuff I don’t wish to air or would make me sound insane. HOWEVER trust me when I say it is simply impossible to make sense of it, even via conspiracy theory, unless the entire world is a conspiracy against me (frankly, most of them can’t dislike me. They haven’t MET me yet.), and that at this point we’re well into Job levels of “He took my cows and my fields, and…” (only not directly.) and since the creator I believe in isn’t a sadist, and He’s leaving me only ONE avenue to make money and survive, I’d better get to writing and publishing indie, before He takes this blog too, which has been good for my mental health these last several years.

It  feels very much like being herded by a gentle and yet unyielding hand.

Thing is the purpose might not even be for me to write as such, but whatever I need to write to understand?

Anyway, vocations — and sometimes very good marriages — are things we fight and chafe against and sometimes, if we’re exceptionally self-destructive, find ways to destroy completely because they’re terrifying.  They’re something that’s us, but bigger than us.  Something gigantic, immense, something that touches the heart of what it is to be human, perhaps the heart of what human IS.  They are somehow personal and eternal, ephemeral, constricted to our lives, and things of eternity.

And if you don’t think that’s scarier than h*ll, you’ve never experienced it.  And somehow you find yourself in the middle of this and you think “if I lose this, it will destroy me. I’ll cease to be. This is now part of me, an essential organ.”  And being human, fallible, stupid and at least a little bit self destructive you think “Maybe I can survive if it ends now, but the longer it goes on” and then you try to break it, so it won’t hurt when it dies.

And sometimes you’re in a place where it already hurts you. When your spouse is ill, or has to go away at least for a while.  Or when your vocation keeps being met by obstacles, setbacks and disappointments.  In both cases, often, when you feel inadequate and unworthy to either vocation or marriage or… well, yes.

You try to destroy it then to stop the pain. Because if it’s not real it can’t hurt you.  You try to deny it, block it, turn it away and say “that was never me. I was never that person.”

Except it is and you are.  And killing part of yourself hurts like hell and will probably destroy you if you manage it.

I’ve never managed it and have ceased trying with my marriage for decades now.  I have, however, continued to fight and lash out at the vocation and extirpate from me this thing that, in the main, has cost me trouble, worry and attempts to mold myself into something I’m not in order to survive the business.  Or at least the business as it was.

It was only last week I realize I fight it so hard because it is what matters. Because it is a part of me near the center of my being.  And if I managed to destroy it, it would ultimately — even if the body kept on — be a really complicated way of committing suicide or at least severe self-maiming.

A vocation is not just an interest — I’m interested in tons of things — or something you do well.  Arguably I started out doing writing very badly and have now come to some sort of competency through hitting my head against the wall often enough. (rephrenology for the win.)  It’s not even something you WANT to do. Heck, there are a ton of things I want to do, some of them much easier.

A vocation is difficult and so scary that you — I — almost feel compelled to try to escape it.  And such a vital part of you that giving it up causes pain but it also always — even when going well — has the potential to hurt you, consume you or destroy you.

Which is why I often hide for the hills.

Fortunately something there is which herds me back to the path, when I’m about to make a break for the electric fence.

In this case, beyond the litany of firings, laying offs and closings of pathways that has been going on since November last year, we’re now in the realm of “petty.”  I mean, killing ones cattle and crops one gets, but when the plow rusts, so one has to plant that which has to be done by hand with the hoe, it becomes a comedy.

We came back from the wedding trip, to find that the alarm on younger son’s car has stopped recognizing his key, so that’s going to cost us a bunch of money which we frankly don’t have to repair (we know what’s wrong. We just lack the tools to fix it). That falls under cattle and fields, and we’ve reached the outlying paddocks or perhaps the rabbit cages.  BUT this morning we woke up to some kind of city truck on the street, and found our internet is gone.

Well, after the wedding I’d be inclined to spend the day socializing on line, catching up on things that slipped, and perhaps discussing other stuff.  But the truth is I can’t.  I’m writing this while tethered to my phone, as our house is without internet access.  And the phone has a limited amount of data.  So I might not be in the comments much today, until the internet problem is solved.  And perhaps if I’m good and finish stuff to come out indie, I’ll be allowed to have internet and stop being herded quite so hard.

Until then, I’m going to work.



87 thoughts on “Vocation and Interest

  1. Go forth and be indy plentiful.

    This gives me some stuff to reflect on personally.

  2. How about a heroine’s journey for a modern conservative teenage girl?

    I enjoy roleplaying games, but I certainly don’t have the background to write it convincingly.

  3. The ceremony is a reinforcement of the existing bond, a telling the world “Look, this exists. You must respect it and help us respect it.”

    Unfortunately significant sections of society are dropping the ball on their responsibility.  They do increasingly less to respect marriages — individually and as an institution. Many even deny that lifelong commitments can or should be made.  Just one of the many ways they have fallen into a self-destructive mode of operation.

    1. I’ve thought that “love” is a verb.

      And also that “true love” requires someone have the wherewithal to be “true”.

      A lifetime commitment or any oath, anything like that, requires that someone have the necessary character. And that’s work. We focus outward instead of inward and put the burden of our character on the object of our faithfulness… or faithlessness. That’s not where it belongs.

    2. Well, we just had a 20 year “marriage is a private thing” to get us publicly recognized gay marriage (yes, I see the contradiction).

      But since it is just a private thing for two people (for now, the logic used to do gay marriage by judicial fiat will do the same for non-binary marriage) why should the culture respect it.

      The number of “brides” who think the ceremony is all about celebrating them isn’t helping. To be honest, Millie Kerr had the right idea with “Single People Should Get to Have Weddings, Too” (https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/11/single-people-should-get-to-have-weddings-too/265689/) despite all the abuse heaped on her. Bribe the children to shut up and let the adults get on with marriage.

        1. I missed that one.

          I’m glad I missed that one.

          “Shout your abortion” was bad enough.

          That said evil me (yes, yes, I know that is the normal me some days) likes the idea of an abortion shower.

          No seriously, because I can bring a wire coat hanger as a shower gift.

          1. I saw ‘shout your abortion’ get two sorts of responses

            1) Good men who wanted children would never consider those women
            2) the players would look at them with a certain amount of ambivalence, because they might have STDs, but on the other hand there was a chance they won’t get hit with baby daddy suits later, so were on the maybe list for screw and dump…

  4. I’ve lived longer with my wife than without her. Does she drive me crazy? Of course. Does she keep me sane? Yep. Can I live without her? Well, yes. Would I want to? Nope.

    1. Very much the same. Sometimes we fight like cats in a sack, but even those moments are better than being without him, because without him I’m not really fully me.

    2. I’ve lived longer with Beloved Spouse than without. Does BS drive me crazy? Of course. But not as crazy as I drive myself.

      1. “marriage is not commonly unhappy, otherwise than as life is unhappy; and that most of those who complain of connubial miseries, have as much satisfaction as their nature would have admitted, or their conduct procured, in any other condition.” Samuel Johnson

  5. Your comment about marriage growing beyond the sum of the parts is so true. I’ve lost both parents, but the effect of losing my wife was so much greater. It felt like I was ripped in half, and that I must live with half my soul missing,
    And yet I would do it again, for the incredible magnifying effect a marriage of two souls has on a person.

  6. (frankly, most of them can’t dislike me. They haven’t MET me yet.)

    Dear Esteemed Hostess: 

    I know that you know enough about history and have experienced enough trolling on this blog to know that people will hate you without ever meeting you.  Just the idea of you — real or imagined — is enough to disturb them no end.

  7. Ah well, half a wedding is better than none.

    “Write when you get woke.”
    (Yes, I confess: I’m a baaaaaaad wallaby.)

  8. Congratulations on gaining a new daughter. Health and Happiness to all.

    Why do I have this image of Sarah trying to stare down a well-trained Border Collie? 😉

    1. It can be done, but it takes a lot of work, and occasionally sound suppressors. Angie the BC does not have an indoor voice.

  9. Congratulations! You’re a Mother-in-law! Have you studied up on how to do it correctly?

    And if the key thing has a battery, change that first. Just because. If it’s one of the sealed key types, call a dealership and see if it can be reprogrammed or something. Otherwise, speaking from experience, they’re horribly expensive.

    And lastly, what was that place Robert and Blake registered? Some of us lost track of time . . . not to mention the site.

      1. Nanny Ogg! No, not really. Our Esteemed Hostess will not expect that her daughter-in-laws were meant to wait on her hand and foot … but she might inspire it a little, maybe … just a little.

        That Death might have a daughter I can believe without trouble. What I cannot imagine is Granny Weatherwax as a mother-in-law. Not now. Not ever.

        1. Assumed prudishness is about the only way to defend oneself against the noxiousness of those who are salacious. It may mean less that one is offended than that one is simply not interested (an attitude generally incomprehensible to the salacious.)

      1. I want to be a newlywed again! Then I’d just copy their list; everything on there is what I would love to have gifted. (Except for the house – I have the strange quirks of this one down now, and don’t want to learn a whole new set.)

        Bookmarked for the weekend, anyway.

    1. Yes on the key battery. They tend to die without warning, and “not recognized by car” is one of the main symptoms. (Note to self; change key batteries for #2 vehicle.)

      1. Had that happen once. A quick Google for “how to change key fob battery on 2012 Kia Optima” and a trip to Target for a watch battery and everything was set right.

        1. Yes. Old hands at this by now. The 2004 Elantra, 2010 Chevy Pickup, and 2015 Sonata, all have key fobs that fail due to battery failures. Although kid reports that the 2004 Elantra key fob part doesn’t unlock and turn off the alarm anymore. Elantra, if it is locked without the key fob and you unlock with the key, it is fine. Has over 100k on it. Not worth cost to get it fixed. Trying to talk kid into replacing it. But we taught him too well … his reply? “Car does what it is suppose to. It works.” Given where he works, least likely car in the lot to be stolen.

          FWIW. If you do take it in to be “repaired” any repair place worth the money is going to try changing the battery first, then only charge for the battery. Might be able to get the battery cheaper somewhere else, but shouldn’t be charge outrageously.

  10. This was mostly because we’re in some ways very different and both very, very, very stubborn. Which is why in the first year of marriage we argued a lot, and I packed my bags to leave at least once a month. But I never left.
    Viva le difference!
    Where’s Pepe LePew when to need him.

  11. Re: birds and mice doing your sewing and everything coming up roses and buttercups after finding your calling.

    People who think that haven’t thought about St. Paul have they? We’re talking about a man who was taught by one of the very best, someone who thought he was doing what was right and got blinded by the light (literally) finding out he was wrong. Stone, beaten almost to death, shipwrecked, and yet not discouraged because he knew he had been called.

    1. Re: birds and mice doing your sewing …

      Neither birds nor mice have significant control over their excretory functions, so …. no. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

  12. It would be nice if a vocation came with a never ending supply of effortless motivation and joy.

    1. There are those moments…

      You know what we get to do today, Brooks?  We get to play baseball.


  13. Well, if we’re going to analyze marriage/give advice, I think the most succient discussion of marriage was done by George Furth and set to music by Stephen Sondheim (in my second favorite, or favorite depends on the day, musical):

  14. It’s a truly marvelous announcement of a new situation that doesn’t mean that someone you care about (even if you’ve only met them and their spouse ONCE in a crowded diner) gets “messed up”.
    > Good luck and I’ll ldo what I can to contribute by book buying.

  15. Often, in fact, the predestined relationship, the one that matters, the vocation that you do, sometimes against your own will, is not birdsong and happiness, but a struggle, everyday, by your fingernails.

    Is this where we got the popular image of Michelangelo lying on his scaffold in the Sistine Chapel, singing Praise Songs while he painted?

  16. it is simply impossible to make sense of it, even via conspiracy theory, unless the entire world is a conspiracy against me

    Nyah, that can’t be the case – it is conspiring against me.

    1. Cue National Lampoon’s “Deteriorta”
      “You are a fluke of the universe
      you have no right to be here.
      Whether you can hear it or not
      the universe is laughing behind your back.”

      Regardless, I still carry on. Stubborn SOB at your service.

  17. “We do not do this thing because we are permitted. We do it because we have to. We do it because we are compelled” Rorschach, ‘Watchmen’

    1. Also because younger son has now learned to say “The Lieutenant wouldn’t like that. It would be abandoning a post of duty” when I am suffering one of the periodic fits.

      1. Who among us, who has ever felt a true vocation, has not begged for this cup to pass? “I wish the Ring had never come to me”. I can’t count the number of times I have spoken to myself in the dark watches of the night that I never volunteered for this role, that surely someone else can do it.

        “Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for”

      2. The fifth General Order of the Sentry: I will quit my post only when properly relieved. This is why Naval retirement ceremonies include the passing of the Watch.

  18. There are days when I glower up toward the Most High and mutter, “I’m doing what You want. You could make things go a little easier.”

    And I’m really afraid that a Voice will come from heaven and say, “I already did.” 😛

    1. The only thing that ever worked as rolling my eyes ceilingward and pointing out “This doesn’t pay more soon, I’m going into politics.” I tend to make record money that year.

          1. Isn’t that more of a threat than a temptation?

            That it works could be used as proof that God is a loving God, even of those that everyone else detests. Why else would he act to preserve politicians from thy righteous wrath?

    2. Umm TXRed you REALLY don’t want to complain to the Author (CF chapters 38-39 of Job) :-). Although the poetry in that part of scripture is breathtaking.

  19. I still remember when my IA (inspecting authorized airplane mechanic, and shop owner) and my friend Ted Smith (fellow pilot, also SWAT team trainer) looked at me over their coffee mugs with that peculiar smile that men who’ve spent too much time on the two-way range get when a particularly delightful irony is delivered by the universe, and John said, “We always knew you’d marry a combat vet. You’re too high strung.”

    I made an irritated noise, and the gentlemen, who’d both been married for decades to their loving wives, laughed.

    They were right. Life is a whole lot less stressful with Peter at my back, and I’m much less high strung these days. He still sometimes amazed that I love him… I’m still amazed that he puts up with me. It’s been a lot of work, and every second is worth it. Even the irritating ones!

    1. Some people just don’t understand the profound value and amazing miracle of “he puts up with me.”

  20. Congratulations on the new daughter! May they always have joy to fortify them through the hard times, find their burdens bearable, their smiles quick to banish the tears, and fortunes be kind! Congratulations!

    (looks at the registry with utter confusion no don’t try to send the gift to me why are you trying to send it to me T_T )

    Rhys said that he felt the first stirrings of interest after reading a few posts of mine… I’m not sure when exactly he decided “I want to make her happy” came in. He knew. I was a bit more dense, but luckily for him, not entirely clueless…

    The Housemate notes I am always a bit more high strung and gloomy when Rhys is away for work. Because without him, the home isn’t complete.

  21. Our biggest argument is over who will die first. We both hope it is ourself. This is probably jinxing things, but we haven’t had a raised-voices argument in over a decade.

    I’ve never had a vocation. I do what I do because I’m very good at it, it’s interesting, and usually pretty easy.

    1. My first wife was 12.5 years younger, and died 21 years ago. My current wife is 11.5 younger. I told her that if she dies before I do, the next will be 10.5 younger. If I live that long.

      1. I’m 22 years younger than Peter, so you’d think he’d go first? He had a heart attack on me between being affianced and married. On the other hand, I was flying small planes in Alaska, so this was by no means a foregone conclusion. We both keep our wills up to date, and drive wary of the stupid, the panicky, the drunk, and the drivers who think they’re immortal.

        1. I’m 5 years younger. My mom’s side average age survival is almost 90. She’s 84 and not slowing down any. Daddy’s been gone for 10 years. Almost lost him 32 years ago at age 50; but then Dad smoked and for awhile socially drank too much. Definitely factors for him. But not factors at all form mom’s siblings. One who is 81 and the other is 73. Both heavy smokers, strong social drinkers.

          Hubby’s family has a less lengthy life span. Presumption is he will go first. Not looking forward to it. 17 months, very long months, when he was home only on weekends or vacation time. I didn’t sleep well when he was not home. Not obvious when he’d be gone only a few nights. But week after week, it took it’s toll and it is obvious now when one of us is gone for just a night or two.

          Then there was the perception that he had that he wasn’t needed at home because he wasn’t consulted on every little thing. Wait what? You mean I’m not suppose to be competent? I’m suppose to be clingy? I’m suppose to be high maintenance? I’m suppose to be like (name of acquaintances in similar situation whose spouse was high maintenance clingy)? Funny how that argument stopped when I called at 2 AM on how to turn off the water because a pipe had broken; I knew where and how, just couldn’t get it to turn (because stupid LEVER wasn’t visible in the dark even with a flashlight, but welded wheel was just there.)

          Yes. It was his frustration of not being here. My stoic determination to not make him worry. That clashed. Hilarious now looking back. But damn. The tears.

          Then there are the arguments when parking the trailer. Epic. We both know the (logical) reasons. Does not stop them.

          Damn I will miss him. Or maybe he’ll miss me. I am the one with sleep apnea … May it not happen for a long, long, long, time.

  22. A vocation is difficult and so scary that you — I — almost feel compelled to try to escape it. And such a vital part of you that giving it up causes pain but it also always — even when going well — has the potential to hurt you, consume you or destroy you.

    Thank the Maker I don’t have one.

  23. Still not posting the Terms of Endearment clip….
    So the bride passed the Kratman test with your son, then?

    1. I think that he stole that from Heinlein in “The Number of the Beast”.

  24. “I’d better get to writing and publishing indie, before He takes this blog too, which has been good for my mental health these last several years.”

    Just have to ask the Author, please don’t take this blog away. Reading the words of our Esteemed Hostess and the rest of the commentators here has helped keep me sane these past few years as well.

    My thesis adviser told me that friendships begin with the words, “Really? I thought I was the only one who did that?” Even thought I’ve never met any of you in person, it’s something that I’ve been saying a lot since I started reading here.

    1. That was C. S. Lewis’ take on Friendships (in his Four Loves). 😀

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