I've recently been speaking with the class I teach about the idea of commitment.
As ten-year-olds, they are just starting to explore this idea in their own lives - they belong to football teams and gymnastics clubs, they are promising themselves as best friends forever, and they've witnessed the complexities of changing relationships and marriages in their parents.
Perhaps the most common commitment. Image from Pixabay
We talked about people who have dangerous careers, like policemen and firefighters. They suggest nuns and priests; the school principal; Malala Yousafzai. They talk about 'giving up your life.'
My question is this - if it is what you love, is it really 'giving up' your life? Or is it perhaps the other end of the scale - fully, wholeheartedly, embracing it? In a time of the quick-fix, perhaps finding a vocation is the depth of love and meaning our lives have been missing.
In the well-loved documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, our patient protagonist Jiro Ono explains the drive that led him to dedicate his life to perfecting one craft:
"I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is."
His yearning is a strong undercurrent that did not waver throughout his life. He has, as my ten-year-old students would acknowledge, genuine commitment. Yet his choice of passion may strike us as unusual. Which begs the next question - can anything be a vocation?
I think yes.
If we can do something good, with patience and love, it is surely worth our own effort and others' respect. I have chosen Education, and I find myself constantly looking for the next step, the better way, the more developed approach. It is a broad church and a fascinating one.
Teaching - my own commitment. Image from Pixabay
For Jiro, his vocation needed no such breadth. In his grain of rice, he found a world.
Whatever it is we choose, the effort and reward of a true commitment is worthwhile. To give all we have is, I believe, a noble endeavour, the possibilities of which are beyond imagination.