One particular shop was a Greek food product shop. The shelves were packed with teas, honey, spices, and sauces - more than anyone could dream of taking home. It would take a good 45 minutes to actually see everything in the shop, much less to read the labels and really think about what you would want to buy. The shopkeeper was enthusiastically friendly and apparently very proud of his products. He was eager to talk about each item and the source, and even perhaps the history of the product or it’s source. If one was patient and listened to his spiel, he might offer a sample of some of his local wines or liquors.
My friend Emily asked me if I would join her on the last day before her departure. She wanted to pick up a couple of gifts for her friends and, she admitted, perhaps you can rescue me if that guy talks too much…
So Emily looked around, through the soaps, wooden spoons and other gift items, while I made small talk. “It seems you really love what you do here; you offer such nice items and enjoy talking about them to your customers…”
He frowned. “Actually, I don’t. I had a great career working with television in Athens. That was what I loved, but I had to give it up.” My curiosity got the best of me. I live for getting to talk to people about their careers and life’s calling. “What happened?”
Emily glanced up from the coffee mugs, trying to hold back. He went on to tell me about his experience. It appeared that he had been a news reporter and loved getting the real story, hearing from the people, “I loved being behind the camera,” he paused “but I was forced to stick the camera in the people’s faces.” He hated it, but he had to leave, ‘because that’s what I really wanted to do…”
I added, “It sounds like the job went against your integrity.” He nodded. By then Emily (also a coach) had her purchase at the counter, and was jumping in. “Is there something else you would rather do? What would you enjoy?” We were just warming up, and he was saved by the bell – phone. He put the things in the bag as he spoke in Greek to the caller. I wanted to ask him, if he could go back in a different situation, would he do the work again. I’m not sure if I could have conveyed the concept with the language barrier, or if he would have wanted to discuss it.
An hour later, we were having lunch and both sorting it out. We agreed that we couldn’t shut our curiosity off or resist trying to help, but we knew it was none of our business. “You know,” Emily began, “He could do so much for this island, doing TV programs or features for the culture and businesses here. It would be amazing. He loves his camera, and can do so much for the world in a positive way. But I don’t think he’s ready to hear it. He would have to discover that himself.”
Sometimes people have to find their own way to live their passion and life’s calling. No one can show it to them. It’s a journey we all have to take on our own. We both knew we could help him find it, but he would have to be ready to take that first step, and we both sensed that he was too filled with anger to see it.
Had he been ready to see his calling, he would have expressed his wishes to do something else with film, brought up an idea he had, or in some way talked more about what he liked about his career. At this point, all he could see is that he was stuck in the store, trying to make ends meet.
I didn’t see him again before I went home a few days later. It would be interesting to see what else was going on – perhaps that’s just my curiosity.
We can be so blocked in our current situations; we’re not ready to see a new possibility. However, if we wish for a way out, we can get help with the blocks that are holding us back. Some of my clients come to me at the point where they are still in that hole, with the job that goes against their integrity and values. They feel sold out. Sometimes they reach me at the stage our storekeeper was: they bailed out, but don’t know what to do next. Either way, I’ve been able to help them conquer the blocks and brainstorm with them on reaching their dreams. It’s amazing to me when I see the person make the shift to new possibilities.
Live your adventure, find your soul's calling.
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