Every time I read a book, I feel an ache. Every time I see an actor tromp upon a stage, I feel an ache. Every time I hear a speaker intoning the words of a great story or poem, I feel an ache.
An ache. A yearning. A hankering even. Something within me actually hurts to read, to see, to hear. Why? Because it reminds me of what I have not yet done.
That ache knows me. Other people love me, but it knows me.
It used to come to me whenever I was faced with someone sharing their gift. Late at night or early in the morning, it would tease me, telling me I was missing out, taunting me for not answering my vocation.
And for the longest time I made the mistake of ignoring it.
At times, I think, we all feel this ache. It aggravates us because we know what we’ve done to ourselves. We’ve listened to the adult in our heads instead of the child in our hearts. And when we do this, we lose.
Because adults rarely have time for sidewalk chalk and dance parties and whimsy. They tend to quash impractical ideas and dissuade you from risk. Call me naive, but I think you need to listen to that child — at least long enough to know what you’re meant to do.
A friend once said to me, “What rips you up? What burns you? What is it you just can’t stand? These are clues to what you should be doing with your life.”
It’s true. The broken things you notice are precisely the problems you’re meant to fix. It took me a long time to do this, to pay attention to my ache, but once I did, things started to align.
And what I learned, what I think we all learn, is that nothing is wasted. Everything in life is leading to a moment that’s yet to come. It’s all preparation — a wonderful redemption of what we thought were long-lost dreams.
Now that I’ve come in contact with my vocation, I know that the difference between a fulfilled life and one full of regret is whether or not you listen to that ache. Did you pay attention to that unsettled feeling and finally realize all is not right with the world so long as you continued to hide your gift.
So I have one very simple question for you. As Mary Oliver once wrote,
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
In other words: What’s your ache? What unsettles you, like a great poetry reading messes with me? That’s a clue to your calling. Do something today to share your gift, and let it begin with leaving a comment. Feel free to promote whatever you’re working on in the comments.
Hedge King in Winter is coming soon. Want to read more? Go here to read an excerpt from my new book.
If you enjoy this content, please sign up for the mailing list:
You’ll receive access to free eBook content, daily writing prompts, and a monthly newsletter from the studio of a working writer and professional publisher.