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So just to give you a background, my husband and I read an article about how to know if you have found your calling, and unlike the effect it had on most people, it actually depressed me. I'm an artist, but let's just say the road hasn't been easy, and these days I've been feeling like the well is dry. But that article said that if you were in your vocation, it should be exactly the opposite – obstacles should clear out of your way and all that.
Of course, I didn't consciously realize I was disheartened, until I talked to my mentor, Shichiruidou sensei. At first, I just wanted to let him know that hey, I'm thinking of trying art restoration (what I now realize is my way of ducking my fears) and make no mention of what my path will be afterwards. But then he asks me directly, what do I want to happen in the end? And this is where he really opened my mind and heart to what is going on inside me. So here are some of the things I learned, and hopefully will remember when the times get tough:
1. Move not out of fear, but out of expectation of your best self.
"Lay your fears on the table." That's what he said. And after a moment's surprise and hesitation, that's what I did. I talked about my fear of not being creative, and not finding my message, of never being acknowledged and recognized for my art, even by my own family… And then he did something that really surprised me. With a flourish of his hand, he said "They are all resolved!"
What, resolved?! How can that be? And for a moment, I fully believed that it was. And a moment is all I needed. It is possible for these things to be resolved, and I have to move as if they were resolved. I had to have faith, and in having that faith, to move from my best self, as if I were my best self; not out of fear.
So what would you decide to do if you were great at everything, if anything was possible?
2. Have faith and gratitude.
In relation to the first, faith is important. Not in yourself precisely, as one's powers can only go so far. But faith in your Backer, your Patron. Someone Up There is looking over you and is wanting you to do what you do. If He didn't want you to be doing what you are doing, the opportunities that you have would have all gone away. Relationships with mentors like him would have been cut off and opportunities like going to school for art would have disappeared. Don't say that things and opportunities haven't come your way, they already are, just perhaps not in the form that you were expecting.
And if that were the case, you're not doing what you are doing for your own sake but out of gratitude. It sounds so trite, but I guess it's true. When you do something not for yourself, but in thanks to someone up there, I think it's more meaningful and more worth doing.
3. Always be in your fighting pose
Just because you've been blessed and are being guided by your patron, doesn't mean you can sit back and relax. You have to work hard and be prepared for the opportunities that will come your way. Work hard and be prepared.
4.Give generously, and receive generously.
In anything that you truly love, you have to be able to give generously. If you need to buy materials or go to school or go see a museum, don't skimp. Spend on these things, not for the sake of your pleasure or ego, but to enrich yourself so that you are able to give more.
In the same way, carry a big receiving plate. Don't go around expecting to receive only a little, begging for scraps. Expect to receive much, and work to receive much.
5. Nourish joy and happiness.
Whatever you do, do it with joy and love. Life is short, and there is only now. If you live in regret of yesterday or in fear of tomorrow, you won't be able to fully cultivate that joy, and as a result will negatively affect your work. You might be in your vocation, but if all you do is worry and feel regret, you will never be able to concentrate on the present and on what you should be doing. And honestly, isn't it just a waste of your life if you aren't able to do everything with joy in your heart?
6. Be patient.
Don't be too hasty in giving up if things don't go your way, it's too early to tell. Some things are going your way, but if you don't make full use of the things that are and only focus on the things that aren't then you will surely fail.
7. Move in creative circles and keep the company of creative people.
Make it a point to spend time with creative people, people of like minds who will nourish your creativity. People who do not create, even though they may love you, will not be able to renew your creative energies. They can only receive it but cannot replenish it. So make it a point to spend time with those who also create and express themselves, to nourish and inspire each other.
After he talked to me, I felt refreshed and ready to take on the world again. And yes, joyful too! I hope somehow it does the same for you