BOOK REVIEW: Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life
We find ourselves compelled to follow the sometimes blind spiritual instinct that tells us our lives have purpose and meaning. We find that we must act on this imperative despite the temptations - to back down and run for cover - that will divide even the most grimly resolute against themselves. We must persist with the sort of hope about which playwright and former Czechoslovakian president Vaclav Havel spoke when he said, "Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
-Gregg Levoy, Callings, page 4
Bookworms and seekers unite! This treasure trove laced with myth and story is captivating and informative - rich with the reminder that we already have many of the clues we yearn for.
Gregg Levoy's Callings was published in 1997, the same year I started high school. For some reason, that idea makes me giddy. It makes me like it more. Like we are invisibly connected somehow.
Levoy's artful storytelling brings his organized thoughts to life. Just when I wonder where he's going with something, he ties it neatly in a bow and wraps it in myth, taking my breath away.
Levoy's tone is so warm, allowing his humble wisdom to radiate in a lasting but gentle way.
Chapter One is all about listening. It's about paying attention to what keeps finding you. The unglamorous and noninstagramable time spent being a watchdog to our own experiences. He leaves you with a sense of vigor that however futile, trivial or temporary dreams may seem, build them anyway.
We come to understand the irony that we can experience progress even while standing still, that going inward can be going forward.
-Gregg Levoy, Callings, page 26
Chapter Two is full of paradox and discernment. I love Levoy's inquisitive mind and how he poses questions. His focus on utilizing informed intuition, cultivating patience and inner-questioning is engaging. Reframing "failures" in retrospect may be the missing pieces helping us see why we understand certain areas of life so well.
Sometimes while reading I just wanted to jump around and scream with excitement.
Attempts to divide ourselves into divine and not divine break us apart. Better for our overall composure to focus on whether a particular call has integrity or not, whether it makes us feel more of less authentic, more or less connected to ourselves and others, more or less right, not morally but intuitively.
-Gregg Levoy, Callings, page 39
I actually ordered this book for Sean and I to read "together" and discuss. This is not the first time I've done such a thing. Guess what? He never participates and I always end up realizing I simply wanted the book. What an odd way to go about reading a book, right? I tend to come at things sideways.
Chapter three titled, Braving Conflict, centers around holding paradox. It had me thinking lots about how there are so many versions of "me" dancing on the insides of my epidermis. They are all real and to see and acknowledge them all can be dizzying. Holding duality and accepting the paradox that lies within me is a key piece of moving towards the greatest expression of the life I'm choosing to create.
Ahhh, chapter three. I loved you.
Ok, in the interest of space and time, I'll spare you the remaining thirteen chapter summaries and leave you with my favorite bits.
Callings is a treasure chest full of wisdom from Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and countless real life stories of people both refusing and accepting their calls.
Levoy digs into following passion, dreams and their wisdom as well as sickness and the messengers of symptoms.
Of course this book was full of astrology even though the "a" word was nowhere to be found. In chapter ten, he explores memory and the secrets embedded within. Look here:
We all have patterns fixed within us in the same way, designs we can't scribble over or erase. By going back in time, we can find what is timeless in us, what is enduring and not just ephemeral. We discover that we aren't just a particle but also a wave that starts far out at sea.
Calls fit into these patterns, and they grow out of them. In a sense, patterns are calls.
-Gregg Levoy, Callings, page 170
This makes me wonder if our whole birth chart is our calling. Each thread found within the birth chart - from our personality to our communication style and beyond - points to the embedded patterns of our life. Free will flavors the recipe but the ingredients are laid out on the counter already.
Levoy continues his discussion on the patterns embedded within us...
They are where we've worn footpaths to and from issues in our lives. The dream that won't go away is a call, as is the symptom that recurs, the section of the bookstore you always go to first, and the lesson you've endlessly had to learn or are intent upon impressing on your children. The thing people have been telling you all your life is a call, along with the kind of partners you continually attract, the things you repeatedly fight about with others, and whatever subject you can speak about with invincible authority, the emotional place about which you can unequivocally say, "I've been there!"
-Gregg Levoy, Callings, page 171
That's one of my favorite things about astrological interpretations - they can help me remember what I've forgotten and they can help me trust in the unfolding of my life.
Callings left me feeling assured when I was full of doubt, it has offered me comfort when I felt isolated and it has reminded me that I am unfolding my own heroine's journey and to keep patience always in my pocket.