What’s My True Vocation?



Here in Chiang Mai Thailand, I’m a member of two choruses. It’s Christmastime, so we’re working overtime. In addition to the usual tunes, “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel” there are a lot of lovely songs I’m not sick of hearing, and learning the bass part makes them more interesting yet.

I’m grateful to have so much to do along these lines, yet I look back on my life and wish I had not wasted three years at University trying to be a scientist, when all I really wanted to do was theater and music. Heck, unlike math and science I have real talent in those areas.

Thankfully, I snapped out of it halfway through my junior year and snuck out with a degree in Russian, the foreign language elective I’d been taking just for the fun of it. Then I went to graduate school in creative writing. Playwriting to be exact.

When I squeaked out with a Bachelor of Arts in 1972, there were few jobs for Russian speakers,  especially for American kids who sort of spoke Russian. Within a few years, the Soviet Union would collapse and native Russian speakers would rush to cover the globe. In Argentina I met a Russian man with a doctorate in physics who was working as a motel clerk.

The idea of finding one’s “true vocation” is a lot like finding one’s “soul mate.” It’s wishful thinking meeting romantic nonsense.

They say when people are in hospice, they often share their regrets with anyone close enough to listen. Most have to do with remorse over having sold oneself short. “I always wanted to be a classical pianist. Why did I become a legal secretary?”

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