Part 1 of 2 installments on the subject of careers

A few thoughts on the whole subject of life-calling, career, which we periodically kick around.  For what it’s worth; Time was, two generations ago, and still in many parts of the world, a child is shut up pretty much to doing for a living what his dad did. (Is why Jesus naturally became a carpenter.)  Learning anything was primarily through practical example, so that farmer’s sons became farmers, etc.  Class consciousness also contributed, as is true in parts of the world somewhat yet, this in part because laborer’s kids don’t get an education.

This, happily, was changed in grandpa’s day with the coming of universal education.  Carpenters’ sons could become lawyers, or at least contractors, employing others, etc. BUT, the idea was pretty general that whatever you became, you remained for the rest of your life.  Part of the reason for that is that life was a lot shorter, choices were fewer and changes were restricted. Until WW II, people were very immobile, living and dying in the same area in which they were born, and transportation was limited.

But now, job and career-changing has become the norm, and (this is something I just stumbled onto) not something to be “accepted” as less than the ideal, but, actually, a higher stage still in this whole thing of careers and life-callings.  In other words, as a son could and did get into another (not necessarily “higher”) calling than his father, now (as it “ought” to be) one individual can and sometimes should go from one to another, not in the sense of “finding” his “right” place (for every one could be “right” for him at that particular time) nor as the result of circumstances beyond his control (place of employment closes, need of more income).

Let’s look at it this way:  What. really, is a life-work all about? Why does a guy or gal work at all? To earn a living, of course, but we all know that even if that were not necessary (via inheritance, savings, or in a culture where food almost falls into your mouth and things like houses are not necessary) anybody ought to “work”, not in order to stay alive, but in order really to “live”.  (People who only play are not really “living”; cultures where work is minimal are pretty primitive; they not only produce very little – they themselves do not develop, amount to much.  “Mere” animals.)

That leads to the fact that not all people are alike, equal in gifts and abilities.  (Some, as we just said, are hardly a cut above the animals, not necessarily “made” that way, but who choose to become or remain on such a level.  Plenty of them right in a culture which itself is advanced, developing, progressive.)  So – in the matter of work or employment there are three general classes of individuals (in both sexes, and in all cultures.)

1.  Those who reach their level of capacity sooner or later and stay at that throughout life.  Diligent enough, enjoying the job perhaps, earning enough for their needs, their working life is a plateau.  While they may change particular jobs, each one calls for about the same skills, etc.  This is not necessarily only describing the day-laborers, assembly-line worker; it can be true of carpenter/contractors, business men, even MDs, lawyers, and it can be especially true of most teachers.  “One year of experience which is repeated forty years” or however long they work.  These people have a high tolerance for monotony.  They are well advised (and choose, if possible) to stay in one job or at least one calling for their entire lives.

2.  Then there are those who grow and develop in a certain job, keep climbing up, learning more, themselves developing.  With it comes new responsibilities and new perks (such as increased income), new challenges.  In other words, they stay in the same general field life-long, but they are capable of growing within it so that, essentially, the change that we all need (especially a growing person, for there can be no growth or progress without change, obviously) is found as the “same” job changes.  I suppose (to take the single field of medicine, for example) a doctor might find this in specializing, changing from internal medicine to cardiology or endocrinology, each requiring further schooling or training and continual updating.

Some people peak in their field and continue to stay in it, while finding self-development and new challenge in another, like the General Practitioners who practice the same kind of medicine as when they graduated from med school (referring and deferring to specialists for all but routine), but they dabble in real estate and business generally or other “hobbies”.  Many retired people indulge this after a life-time in one calling by finally doing what they “like” and are more or less “made” for.  I suppose a lot of our volunteers are like that.

I think most of us have pretty much had this latter conception of life and breadwinning.  I might digress by saying that psychs and sociologists are saying that one (of the many) causes  for marriage break-ups lies in the fact that men (and women, in a measure) reach a point in their lives when they say (with the tread-mill, plateau feeling regarding work, career, accomplishments) – “There has to be more than this,” or, “Looks like this is as far as I can go”, etc.  And because they are locked in (or imagine themselves to be) to such a calling as medicine (or even the ministry!) they practice transference/displacement mental mechanism by changing wives!  (That, of course, doesn’t help, except temporarily, but you find that out only by doing it.)

Next week:  The 3rd class of individuals and the conclusion


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