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Vocation and avocation

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Part 1:

One of the many definitions of happiness is having an aim in life. Having an aim in life can be expressed in many ways, one of which is to have both a vocation and an avocation. An avocation is sometimes defined as a diversion or a hobby. A vocation is sometimes referred to as a calling. Both words can be applied to one’s work or profession. Until I was 23 I did not have a profession, nor did I have a sense of a calling. By my late teens such a sense was a slowly evolving one---from about the age of 18 in 1962 as accurately as I can now recall in retrospect some 50 years later.

After I retired from my work or profession as a teacher-tutor, adult-educator-lecturer in 1999, I reinvented myself. My calling was still expressed, but in a different way. My work or profession, my calling or what might be said to be the central meaning and driving force in my life became, by degrees: a writer and author, a poet and publisher, a researcher and editor, an online journalist and blogger, an independent scholar and my own research-and-personal office assistant. By 2009, at the age of 65, as I began a life on two old-age pensions, I was fully ensconced in these new roles for more than half my waking hours.

I often felt, since the age of 23, that my work, the employment for which I was paid, was a calling. As a member of the Baha’i Faith, the religion I joined at the age of 15 in 1959; and as a teacher who received his formal qualifications at the age of 23 in 1967, I practiced the art of teaching and I saw myself as a Baha’i teacher. I performed this role of Baha’i teacher, this vocation, this calling, both in educational institutions and in a host of other places: homes and halls and an infinite number of other venues and places both public and private.

After 1999 I gradually came to see my calling in the roles listed above for which, and into which, I gradually reinvented myself. I still saw myself as a Baha’i teacher, but I performed that role by means of my writing, not by the exercise of the role of teacher in classrooms and lecture-halls. This notion of a calling, a vocation, was felt to perhaps an even greater extent as the evening of my life lengthened and the age of 70 approached in 2014.

Part 2:

I have done many things in life, had many activities that were diversions, interests, amusements, entertainments, and pleasures that engaged my mind, my heart and my body. As a child and adolescent from birth to the age of 20, 1944 to 1965, organized sport and many an informal game, just having fun, as well as indulging myself in life’s pleasures, and in its myriad ways and means---these were my major diversions and distractions, occupations and recreations.

My work, an employment for which I was not paid, was as a student. The sense of a calling was not present in those years of pre-primary, primary and secondary education, or in any of those part-time jobs which occupied me while I was a student and which, for the most part, filled the summer vacation period or weekends.

As an adult from the age of 21 to 68, 1965 to 2012, my diversions, the inclinations that occupied my time, have also been many. They have included: having fun and enjoying my leisure-time, playing various sports and going to fitness centres, being engaged in the pleasures and responsibilities of family and social life, of volunteer activity in many organizations and many tasks such as raising funds for charities and service clubs like the Red Cross and the Lions Club. I also took part in many celebrations, commemorations and organized activities in the Baha’i community and in other volunteer organizations.

There were a multitude of tasks and pleasures associated with my places of employment. Watching TV and listening to music on hi-fis and on the radio, daily walks and running, were also among this list of diversions, a list which seems endless as I look back over nearly 70 years of living. Many of these activities, these diversions, contributed either directly or indirectly to my sense of a calling.

Part 3:

Each person who feels they have a calling in life must speak for themselves to define their calling as accurately as they can. I do that here. The calling to which I refer has been, and is, as a member of a global community inspired by the teachings enunciated by Baha’u’llah, that community’s Founder. That global community has also been inspired by ‘Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, the Founder’s successors, and the Universal House of Justice, the current trustee of the global undertaking initiated by Baha’u’llah in the last four decades of the 19th century.

Continuing to speak here from my personal experience, I must emphasize that this calling is centred on a vision—dim and partial but true to reality as I have come to see and believe it—of God revealing Himself in action to souls that sincerely seek Him. This vision has been centred for more than half a century on the social force that is the Baha’i Faith with its special contribution to make to humankind. The Baha’i Cause has a centre of authority in its own Prophet, its own laws, and its voluminous sacred scriptures.

As I gaze at God’s ‘inconceivably mighty works,’(1) I have come to understand this vision through the eyes of the many roles I have had in life, roles associated with my calling, my vocation. I have had many vocations within this calling; they are each narrow and feeble but, together, they have made and are making a distinctive contribution to my piecemeal vision of reality in Life-Time-Space-and-Spirit and their several dimensions in the world of existence.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Goethe, Faust, I, p. 249, and 2 Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 10, OUP, 1963(1954), pp.1-2.

Time’s ever rolling stream1
has been in full swing all my
life and an undying fire of a
curiosity was slowly kindled
by so many books and ideas,
sources and influences: the
intimate companionship of
a mother opened a world, a
plunge, of receptivity & that
irresistibly beckoning curiosity
which urged me to press forward
with time’s hurrying chariot luring
on my intellectual eagerness and
a slowly acquired poetic sensibility.

Now, I have fashioned my poem,
God’s poem, from the things of
this earthly life giving forms and
permanence to the ephemeral,
however imprecise and allusive
with a fitful tracing of a portal
allowing me a fleeting glimpse
of an eternal country of reality.2

1 Isaac Watts quoted in Toynbee, op. cit., p. 3.
2 John Hatcher, The Arc of Ascent, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, p.25.

Ron Price
27 September 2012
(final draft)

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Updated September 27th, 2012 at 08:36 PM by RonPrice (to alter some words)

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