Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life
by Gregg Levoy, Harmony Books, 1997, 332 pages, $23 cloth.

Reviewed by Susan Kleihauer
Issue #28, Winter 1997-8, p 24 


 
As Gregg Levoy notes in the introduction to his book, the purpose of calls is to summon us away from our daily grinds to a new level of awareness, into a sacred communion with that which is bigger than ourselves.
 
This can also be a path to reinventing work for Earth healing-finding our way past work that merely pays the bills to serving the whole community of life.
 
"This book is about remembering our vocations again in the true sense of the word-our callings-whether they are in the arenas of work, relationship, lifestyle, or service," the author says.
 
Levoy eloquently captures the often complicated process of discernment, the sifting and sorting through our calls' many disguises. And he deftly weaves the nuances of discerning and answering calls with his personal story and the stories of other people he interviewed.
 
"The critical challenge of discernment," Levoy writes, "requires that we also tread a path between two essential questions: 'What is right for me?' and 'Where am I willing to be led?' "
 
Discerning our calls is only the beginning. Following is the next step in the dance. But many times we are neither ready nor willing to be led, and Levoy is a wise and witty guide to navigating through our inner roadblocks and finding the treasure in our souls.
 
Reading this book, I felt a curious mixture of solace and discomfort. There's comfort in knowing we're not alone. Yet it's no fun seeing how we sabotage ourselves, even if other people do it. Fortunately, the author offers many tools and healing stories for readers to find their way to embracing their passions.
 
At some point, we need to come to a decision and act, often without knowing what the consequences will be. "Beyond a certain point, faith is the magic lamp and humility the abracadabra," he writes. 
 
Levoy encourages taking small steps in our own backyards to help us practice new skills and gather courage.
 
"In following calls, we also need to make some rough peace with the force of chaos and the laws of motion, because following a call often has the effect of placing us at the foaming edge of evolution, moving us from a life that's simpler and less effortful to one that's more demanding, more complex, more of a juggle and a struggle."
 
So much for the popular notion that once we find and answer our call, doors will swing open and everything we touch will turn to gold! In fact, we can set ourselves up with expectations, he warns. Far better, Levoy suggests, "to adopt the old pioneer maxim: Expect nothing, be prepared for anything." In the last chapter, titled "Heartbreakthrough," the stories of people who followed their calls and persisted through the difficulties were particularly inspiring.
 
Yet, paradoxically, when we say yes to our calls, we align ourselves with natural forces -- instead of pitting ourselves against them. "Our right actions and devoted enthusiasms seem to set up something akin to a magnetic field that draws to us benedictions and resources that can help us realize a calling," Levoy says. "Perhaps it's nothing more mysterious than the universe supporting growth, and life loving itself."   ###


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