Pursuing and Relinquishing

The pursuit of one’s calling in life requires a constant process of letting go. Many of life’s possibilities are incompatible with my calling, and others are incompatible with yours. The ongoing effort of discernment is the way in which we discover these incompatibilities, and the work of depression is the labor required to let go of them. 

But each time we let go of such an incompatibility, even though there is first pain, it is followed by intense relief, for it is a realization that we no longer have to worry about it. It no longer needs to cloud our judgment or figure into our already difficult calculations about how to allocate our time and mental energy.

To achieve our full potential in life, to do what only we can do, we must let go of so many things. We must mourn their loss over and over, without lingering in our mourning. Then we must rejoice in the clarity and freshness that follows the dark cloud of the work of depression. For who I am and who I am to become is made perfect by shedding anything that is who I am not, and which makes me into what I am not meant to become.

You are the embodiment of the qualities required to produce a Mozart or an Einstein, but are held down by the attempt to retain or gain qualities that are not. Mozart was not Mozart because he was special. Mozart was Mozart because he was nothing else than Mozart. He did not endeavor to be Caesar or Da Vinci, but removed all of the half-formed qualities of Caesar and Da Vinci which prevented him from being fully and only Mozart!

What we could be, in the minds of others, is a fixed idea based on an only partial and incomplete perception of our talent, a dim peek into the cavernous depths of our soul which reveals little true and honest insight to the observer.

Yet how much stock do we put in the opinions of the observer? How much do we judge ourselves against such alien measures? How much do we injure ourselves with the broken shards handed to us by other imperfect, struggling beings who can barely manage themselves? If we do not let go of these expectations, if we do not drop these jagged shards, we bleed ourselves to death trying to please one and all.

Let go of all that is outside of you. Far from the vanity of solipsism, the search inside of your own soul is the antidote to vanity, for it is the ultimate repudiation of any concern for how you appear to others or what they might think of you. Only when we succeed in such a repudiation can we truly also be present to others as a healing force for their lives and their pain.

It is not, however, a permanent state of affairs, for our nature is inconstant and indiscreet. The cheap reward of external approval is always in the offing, and it lures us away from the deep reward of what springs eternally from within.

If we hide within ourselves, we will be robbed of everything human. If we seek outside ourselves, we lose our identity, that ungraspable quality that makes us unique in all the ages of man.

Let go of the need to please others, and you shall be gracefully pleasing at all times and in all places. Let go of the need to imitate others, and you shall imitate the greatest souls who have ever lived. Let go of the need for perfection and you shall help to perfect the world.

Let go of every fear which immobilizes you, for when you fear you are guaranteed to suffer at least once. With fear you suffer all the pain of the worst possible outcome even before it happens. With courage you suffer at most once, and only when the worst comes to pass.

The stern courage to be you, to pursue your calling to the exclusion of other callings is the wellspring of any lasting joy, any persistent peace you can hope to find in this mortal life. Find that courage and make it your chief counselor, your ultimate confessor, so that you might not falter under the weight of doubt, or be conquered by a new genesis of fear.

The soul of the world is calling, and the answer to that call is inside of you. Ready yourself within, and proclaim that answer without–every remaining day of your life.