Monday, May 10

Have you had your calling in life?

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Many of us go through life with a clear sense that we are not living up to our full potential – that of having a 9-to-5 job, getting married and setting up a family and saving enough money for a comfortable retirement at age 55; and with some good times in between the teenage years and the hospital bed.

You may be one of the fortunate ones working in a job or having a career in a line that you are skilled at and enjoying the profession you are in. Count yourself lucky. The majority are not like you.

We are all here on earth with different personalities, passions and skills. You may be in a very public career or in a very private and low-profiled position. You may be making art, writing, recording, building, designing, exploring, inventing or even just filing and pushing paper.

A few of us get a calling sometime or another in our lifetime.

Callings almost always draw you towards them. They will start as a tiny nagging thought or feeling and slowly consumes your mind and would drive your everyday life. They cannot be ignored. There will be a sense of urgency and a strong urge to do something about it. They’re not whims. Whims are only fleeting and passes us by swiftly.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has a good definition of a “calling”:
1) ‘ a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine intervention’
2) ‘the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages’

Callings can come either early in one’s life or it can even come during the sunset years – it has no fixed schedule and anything in one’s lifetime can occasion such a sudden spark and trigger it off.

We’ve all had our various callings throughout different periods in our lives. I’d like to retell some of my friends’ and relatives.

As my father had established himself in a career with the civil service as an agriculturalist (he was a pioneering freshwater fisheries officer during the British colonial days) it was his wish to see my younger brother in a career in agriculture as well. Off he had gone to Serdang College (now University Pertanian) for a couple of semesters but he had found the subject not to his personal interest; so he had switched to architecture. There my brother had found his calling.

After graduation he had designed many famous public and private buildings, of which the Sarawak Cultural Village has stood the test of time. However later on in life he found another calling and he is today a much renown international fashion designer as well as sitting on the board of many highly regarded institutions including the United Nations Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). He is also a pre-eminent ambassador of Sarawak in the arts and culture world.

My mentor and spiritual counselor and current pastor of my church had a long and distinguished career in one of Asia’s largest insurance companies based in Singapore and he has travelled globally to help them secure new businesses over the years. He had found his spiritual calling from his lord and savior Jesus Christ midway through his illustrious career and had decided to give up all the material wealth and the generous renumeration befitting a corporate head to follow Christ and became a full time pastor quite late in life.

Not just that, he had a vision that he was called to travel outside the comfort zone of his home to be based in Kuching, to further spread the gospel. Together with his wife, who was also a very well-established and respected member of their professional community they had given up their circle of friends and the comfort of family and home to come and live here in Kuching, a comparatively very small and quiet town. In my book there can be no truer calling than that!

My pastor and his wife are no strangers to the local Anglican community in Sarawak as they have travelled in and out of the state for the last thirty years. However in the past five years they have found their calling and have focused and intensified their spiritual guidance among followers of our dedicated church, propagating a greater, deeper understanding and a more dedicated devotion to the Lord’s work and mission in our specific community.

I am indeed proud to be able to consider myself a humble ‘disciple’ of their calling and will be very sad when the day comes for them to return home.

Most people assume that callings are only pertinent or applicable to religion and to followers of the various faiths. This is not true, as one can get a calling to do anything, be anything or be prompted to act on something – it would usually involve spiritual promptings or visionary sightings but it can also be an intellectual choice or a well-thought out decision.

Personally I respect and admire those who have had their respective callings – I’ve heard stories and tales from friends and acquaintances about how they ‘found their calling’ to become lawyers, doctors, teachers and farmers. Most became successful in their calling and went on to build fulfilling lives for themselves. A few found that midway they couldn’t make it in their chosen field of calling and changed course halfway. Very rarely did anyone of them given up.

I’ve also seen and met people who are in the creative arts field who had voluntarily given of themselves to propagate and share their experience, skills , time and talent with others who are like-minded or seeking to learn more. This field encompasses everything from painting to handicrafts to culinary arts to music and dance, to writing and stage performance and many other creative arts far too many to list here.

In the publishing field I have myself also contributed to Marian Chin’s KINO (Kuching In and Out) magazine; there are others like Happenings, etc. I also see Wendy Teo and Karen Shepherd are actively promoting a ‘Think & Tink’ creative arts studio at the old Ting & Ting supermarket premises. Illustrato Studio’s Ang Tse Chwan is publishing his book of photographs by Dennis Lau called ‘Classic Images of Borneo’. The list goes on.

Currently on his annual round, Larry Siah’s Second Time Around books fair is on at the Hills Shopping Mall in Kuching everyday from 10am to 10pm from now till May 17, 2021. Larry’s calling has been to buy quality used books from the USA – the widest possible range from children’s to adult titles to self-help, cooking, arts & science, fiction and non-fiction, hard & soft covers – indeed every known subject under the sun, and this time around he has over 100,000 books priced from rm3.90 onwards! Larry has new titles added every single day as well!

Everyone of us has his or her own calling in life. It’s not too late to find out what’s your’s! Once you find it, never let it go.