Allow dialogue of the self
Even at funerals, people talk about their careers.
On Friday, right before the funeral of my beloved Uncle Butch — the part where people struggle to find the right words — a man I've known for years walked over, said the appropriate words, then shared, “I've got a book in me. What do I do next? Where do I start?”
Later over a meal, talk among family and friends turned to “What are you up to these days?” What do you do?” “What's your major?”
And while no one said it, as they listened to others chat about their lives and careers, everyone was wondering, “Have I done enough with mine?”
When we see dying, we tend to think about how to live. Sometimes we need a day off from our routine to sit in a chapel with a coffin in front of us hearing about someone else's life to reflect on our own.
Who knows how long our own lives will last?
So let's not waste another minute. Let's talk about that craving you have to do more with your life.
German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, better known to most as simply Goethe, nailed the starting point.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live,” he said.
The trouble is hearing what your self has to say.
This requires quiet time to contemplate what's summoning you, no matter how vague it might be. You may not be able to prove it; you just know it.
What's summoning you could be something you've never told anyone or thought was not possible. Yet, it lingers in your mind.
When I work with people to help them get at this, I use my “I just know” exercise. So if you are trying to get in touch with what you want to do with your life, complete these sentences:
• I just know it would be great if I could ...
• I just know I really want to ...
• I just know in the back of my mind, I sense there is a path that uses my ability to ...
• I just know I've always wanted to ...
• I just know I'm intrigued by ...
• I just know I was born to ...
• I just know I want to know more about ...
Finishing these sentences generates no pressure to name what your interest, curiosity or intrigue will turn into — far from it. It's a starting place inside yourself.
In 2007, actress Mary Steenburgen woke up from sedation after routine arm surgery feeling very strange. She has described it in interviews as music playing in her head day and night that she couldn't turn off.
She decided to embrace it and began studying music, composition and great songwriters. Although she had never written music, later that year she wrote her first song and has been composing ever since.
“I love it beyond belief,” she said in a CBS interview. “There's something about it that just appeals to me. I don't know why.”
Such awakenings might be rare. Steenburgen even likens hers to a state of “Musicophilia” — a concept Dr. Oliver Sacks writes about in his book of that name in which people gain strange musical powers or are afflicted with disorders that affect their lives.
But the example does not negate the importance of asking these questions while you can: What's inside me that refuses to be ignored? What wants to live?
Then let it.
Contact career consultant Andrea Kay at www.andreakay.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Innovation enhances Philadelphia’s history as Democrats convene, Pope Francis visits
- Woman shot outside Kennywood Park in West Mifflin
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Apollo Independence Day celebration salutes those who sacrificed
- Draft accords of sanctions relief at Iran nuclear talks in hand
- State-owned universities spend millions in race to snare students
- United Way Impact Fund Grants to award $445K to 26 Butler County nonprofits
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Pakistani military says it achieved major victory over Islamist terrorists