by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
April 18, 2007
ON IGNORING THE DRUTHERS OF OTHERS
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- What's better than sex, money, power, social status, the latest car or the biggest house in the Somebody Suburbs?
What transcends relationships and brings moments of
quiet joy that cannot be experienced any other way?
What makes us feel rightfully connected to Something greater than ourselves - as though we've found a golden key to a gate long locked?
Work that we love. Work that shouldn't be labeled work because it is permeated with personal satisfaction and originality, and lined with an almost sacred rightness. I have no scrap of logic to prove it, but I think we all have a "calling" - a work-mission in life. I think that "mission" is always something that can be done only by us. Whether it is as an inventor of unique quilt patterns, a designer of a star ship, being an artistic auto mechanic who can make a car engine sound like a symphony, or cross-breeding a peach tree with a plum tree and producing a plech, I'm convinced this individualized "mission" exists in all of us.
I also think the inability to recognize, or carry out, our life-mission, is the root of most of our personal miseries and it lies behind the groupie flaws that stymie our societies.
We might label this calling, this mission, as "coming into our own." As though something clicks inside us, falls gently into place.
That "falling," however, is not always gentle, as in the case of President George W. Bush.
Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush was a plastic man lacking in passion for the presidency. Came then the horror of the bombing of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers. President Bush seemed to find his "calling," his mission in life. Standing in the gray ashes of the Twin Towers he made his first full-human speech, his entire being caught up in his obvious "Now, I have finally found my place. Now I have work to do that can only be done by me at this point in history." Whether or not we agree with how he sallied forth with fire in his eyes and self-righteousness in his gait, we have to admit he acts like a dedicated man who believes he is on a holy mission.
Women are less likely to find, or even seek, this intricate, satisfying part of our natures. Brainwashed on all sides - childhood, school, church and community - most women swallow the traditional pill of service to others, never asking the personal spiritual questions: Why was I born? Do I have something to offer my world that only I can offer? I like inventing things. I like building a business from the dirt up. I think I could write a great book that adds constructively to the human library. I think I know an herbal remedy for cancer. I feel the need to build a church that teaches true equality, true one-world, one-family concepts.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good wife, a good housewife and a good mother. There is something spiritually wrong when women do it because they think they should, and at the expense of their personal mission in life. And in an overpopulated world where children die every minute for want of a glass of milk, it hardly makes sense to keep producing offspring in order to prove one is traditionally correct.
Yes, I know. I dared say "spiritually wrong." I believe with every fiber of my well-worn soul that it is spiritually wrong to live an unexamined life - that it is very, very wrong not to examine everything we have been taught and then decide for ourselves what is right and best for us. I further believe that it is only in creative, constructive, individual missions that we find our true connection to the universal Creator.
There lies our sense of completeness that cannot be handed to us by Brother John on Sunday morning; bestowed upon us by The Ladies Society for the Perfection of Apple Pie; or hung around our necks by a society that hands out plaques for excelling in the Groupie Group Waltz.
Families don't write great books. Groups don't create great art. Churches repeat and compete; they never create. Corporations don't compose great music, and the best of medical clinics can't produce - or explain - a Patch Adams, a Marie Curie or a Dr. Dolittle.
It is always from individuals that any society gets what's worth keeping - what moves us all one half an inch forward as Earth inhabitants.
I often think my deep anger over the human condition is directly linked to this unrecognized, squelched, discounted, wasted human potential.
Men as well as women get the short end of the societal stick in the stifling of individuality. From the moment he screams loudly in the nursery, a male child is programmed and pushed to charge forth and "make something of himself," and although his opportunities are far greater than those of his sisters he, too, usually surrenders his inner "calling" to march to the beat of the traditional male drum.
He's expected, by age 30, to have a house with a mortgage that will take him 30 years to pay off, a beautiful wife he can show off at office parties, 2.5 kids, a white picket fence that defines his territory, and a mailbox with his name on it that shouts to the world "See what I've done!"
Never mind that he, Tom Brown, was at age six a genius with an artistic temperament. Everybody knows artists and poets lead lives of out-of-step desperation. Tom must strive to be an all-American success story. And so Tom works hard, gets it all, and dies of a heart attack at age 48 trying to keep it.
Unlike Tom Brown, we can rejoice that Edgar Allen Poe didn't thrown his creativity out the door along with the raven, and that he didn't sally forth to get elected mayor of Dumbsville. Or that William Shakespeare didn't decide to become prime minister of England but opted for writing plays and exquisite poetry that will last a mere few thousand years.
Individuals create. Individuals invent. Individuals are spiritually inclined toward personalized uniqueness. Only individuals have life work-missions. Groups hunch together for comfort, and in it that need for comfort great creative contributions are lost - contributions that might have propelled us forward toward a better tomorrow where individuality is revered and group-itis is considered a universal sin.
Each of us must dare ask: "Why am I here? What personal contribution can I offer my world? How can I honor my sacred self, my gifts of originality?"
In that asking - and finding - lies the best of the human spirit. And when the door closes between This Place and That Place, those individuals who have honored their sacred "calling" will be heard rejoicing because they wrote and sang their own song - and because they did not live their lives according to the druthers of others.
AR Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former Orlando Sentinel columnist living in Cartersville, Ga., where she writes poetry. She can be contacted at email@example.com or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.