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Of Mere Being

Wallace Stevens wrote this beautiful reminder that we each have work to do. I recall something Jon Kabat-Zinn said: “Find a Job with a capital J. Stop doing someone else’s work. Find work that makes you complete.” I paraphrase here. It is easier to be fully present as fulfilled persons.

Thomas Merton and Parker Palmer wrote about the common roots of voice and vocation. I find meaning and completion in the work I do. Somehow, I make the world a better place. As I find my voice, my being made whole and any holes in that being filled. I understand the meaning  of my life’s song  with perhaps no clear meaning to anyone else.

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and spent the last 14 years teaching in an incrediable hybrid school setting. My dissertation topic and research were how teachers experience becoming who teachers, as human subjects. For me, teaching is a calling and vocation that allows me to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what will call me. We have begun a small consulting and leadership firm called Rocky River Leadership & Consulting Ltd.

16 responses »

  1. A perfectly lovely poem with such a good feeling to it, Ivan.
    Remember the days when we always talked in terms of vocation and it was meaningful and we thought work would have meaning. Unfortunely the messages were also had “duty” in tow, we a matter of degree to make that either good or – so often – ill.

    Good post. Thank you~

    • You are welcome Jamie. I think we still want meaning. Sadly, we are just not sure how to accomplish or achieve that.

      • And that indeed is the truth. I think it might help if we talked in terms of “vocation” rather than “career.” Different meanings and connotations, don’t you think?

      • Jamie that is so right. I looked up the etymology of career and its roots are in a course which suggests a planned route. It sounds so linear and antiseptic rather than simply being called to do something one loves.

  2. I fully agree with the notion that voice and vocation have common roots, that finding meaning in what we do helps us to use our voice fully in the present. Beautiful poem.

  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    My voice and my vocation, I feel I have identified. Yet, I remain in an office. I feel I am doing a penance for some kind of reason….

    Lovely words again, Ivan – worthwhile.


    • It is interesting Noeleen. I worked for almost 15 years in banking and left to become a teacher. The bureaucracy of teaching is as depressing of that of banking. The one redeeming quality of teaching is, if I work at it hard enough, I overcome the oppression that hangs over a bureaucracy.

    • I agree there are no easy solutions, but if the “job” hasn’t lulled you completely, I suggest creating opportunities for yourself and not wait. Do something you really love, if only to feed your soul. Keep your day job until you don’t need it anymore.
      Best wishes on your journey my friends. ☼


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