January 13, 2014
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was a scientist – and, a tinkerer – whose parents were both deaf. He’s most remembered for the telephone (patented in 1876), but he saw it as a source of uncontrolled intrusion and interruption on his scientific work, and refused to have one in his personal study.
Today, telephones are ubiquitous; wired networks have given way to cellular coverage, and the ringtones run from sedate to seductive. Whatever the alert, these days, most people stop a moment before answering: their eye is drawn to the screen to answer the question, first: who’s calling?
This is a big week for new books. Robert Gates – former Washington insider, in successive administrations – has captured attention for his backward-looking journal: Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War. He’s rattling the political world with his word pictures of what happened – and, when – behind the closed doors of “the most transparent administration in history.” The cable heads are buzzing…
On the other side of the bookstore is a quieter volume, delivered by a journalist whose work is still world-class, but who has aged past the teleprompter: Jane Pauley is signing copies of Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life.
Reporters watch for stories, and then tell them to an audience with an interest in the subject. As the pitch for her book confirms, “Jane is not an advice giver but a storyteller. Here she tells her own and introduces readers to the fascinating people she has featured on her award-winning Today show segment, Life Reimagined Today.”
At 63, Pauley is in the middle of the Boomer contingent who are coming to grips with life in the 21st Century. Alongside husband Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), she is living the story, herself. In a world where career gets you to the party, but leaves with someone else… who are you, after the party is over?
The pitch: “In 2014, every Boomer will have reached the milestone age of 50. For most, it’s not an end, but the beginning of something new…” Jane has lived that reinvention, and – in Your Life Calling – she’s telling her story, as the solo performance supported by the choir of others’ stories retold from her occasional work on Today.
Get her book: you’ll hear quotes from lots of interesting people, and you’ll get inside scoop on Jane’s journey, as well. One voice you won’t hear: it’s the Caller.
Sometimes, folks import words from elsewhere, and use them without realizing that they’re doing the best they can, but missing something important. I mean, come on: to suggest that early-life participation in the pay-for-play working world is simply the opening act to something far greater in scope and importance to something that emerges later; that’s no small premise, is it?
Pauley incorporates a concept that has its genesis in the Christian camp. Before the Reformation, the use of calling was restricted to the participants in the priesthood. After Calvin, the notion was expanded to include everyone, with specific emphasis on one’s career. The etymology of our word vocation is from the Latin word for calling. The conversation requires recognition of an Initiator who places the call; to assume a unique, personal assignment – not chosen or crafted, but discovered through half-a-lifetime of exploration and experience – falls apart if life is disconnected from a Larger Story, and an involved Creator. What’s a calling, without a Caller?
Kudos to Jane Pauley for recognizing the obvious: life carries potential for significant impact, all the way to the departure from the stage. The end of career is a milestone… but the end of life stretches out to the horizon. She writes of the importance of finding one’s calling as the next great frontier.
I wonder if she’s heard about The Master’s Program, for men and women who agree?