A LIFE AT WORK, by Thomas Moore; Broadway Books; 118 pages. $24.95.
A strong calling to a specific career is a precious thing, says Thomas Moore. Lucky indeed are the people who know they were born to sell, or born to teach or born to build with their hands.
But a good life also may be composed of several callings. You might have a hobby while also raising a family. You might find a way to make money in the daytime, leaving your evenings free for your greater passion of singing with a band.
A good life also may be found through a series of different jobs, Moore says. He himself has experienced a series of callings. For a time, he was called to be a Catholic priest. Later he felt called to be a musician, then a university professor, then a psychotherapist. Currently, he feels called to be a writer and lecturer.
One of Moore's previous books, "The Care of the Soul," spent 46 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. In this latest book, "A Life At Work," Moore talks about the joy of discovering the work for which we were born.
He believes the human soul can grow through work. That's why we must be wise about our choices, he says.
He describes a calling as a sense that life wants something from you. "It can give meaning to the smallest acts and helps create a strong identity." In addition, when you find your calling, you will have a sense that you fit into the scheme of things, or that you fit into God's plan.
He says we all have a sense of destiny, vocation and direction. But we must listen if we are to learn our true calling.
Some might say it's God's voice for which we are listening. Others might say we are listening for our own intuition. Moore draws upon myths, religion and psychology, all in an effort to teach the reader what the voice sounds like.
Of course, it may be easy to recognize when someone else has found the right work and perhaps not so easy to understand your own promptings.
Dissatisfaction on a job may be a call to move on, Moore says, or it may be a call to stay and learn the lessons you need to learn. "You have to read your dissatisfaction and your problems at work to find their meaning and take them as signs," he writes.
He is not completely successful in describing how to know the true voice from all the ideas flitting through your brain. But if Moore fails to set out a foolproof plan for figuring out your life's calling, he does succeed in convincing the reader that the search is vital.
He writes, "Today we may not fully appreciate the workplace as a laboratory where matters of soul are worked out. We tend to focus on literal concerns such as pay, product and advancement." And yet, he says, developments in our work lives deeply affect our sense of meaning. He writes, "Doing what you love and having relationships at work that help you as a person, can give you feelings of peace and satisfaction." Those feelings of peace can carry over into family life as well.
Loving your work doesn't mean being passionate about every minute of every day, he adds. Loving your work can just be a quiet hum in the background. If you find yourself in a loveless state, Moore says, you have some choices. You can either wait and hope for change, or find something new, or bring your own love to the place.
Does talk of loving your work seem like a luxury? Moore's new book will convince the reader that it is not selfish to seek deep satisfaction. At the very least, you'll come away from this book thinking that being open to new callings can give your life more meaning.And finally, he advises, "You don't have to look for perfection. Dark shadows from the past may always color what you are doing. ... A life work is more a sensation than a fact, a realization that your work has been meaningful and not that it has finally become complete and flawless."