The idea of having a “Calling” (with a capital “C”) has intrigued me for decades. Even before I knew what a Calling was, I had experienced many moments that I can best characterize by two phrases:
- “I was meant to be here!”
- “I was meant to do this!”
And then I started to read about Callings and Dharma (again with a capital “D”). The ideas started to inform my experience, and my experience started to inform my understanding of the ideas.
A Calling can be defined as a strong drive to live your life in a certain, particular way.
For my purposes I define Dharma as having to do with what is real … deeply and authentically true. The notion of Dharma can be tied to what is real about a person … what is deeply true, what is at the very core of a person. It is also what is most important about a person … what makes that person “that particular person”. It points to a person’s real self, and their real potential. It also points to the person’s “duty” to pursue that reality.
The Simple Story of Hellroaring Lakes
This story takes place in the Southern Purcells in July of 2001. I was on a backpacking trip with Oliver and Peter.
On Day One we took our full packs up to the Hellroaring Lakes. The first half of the route was on a trail, and the second half was bushwacking. We established a base-camp at the largest of the lakes. I think the name “Hellroaring” must come from the turbulent creek that runs out of the lakes and cascades down the valley below, because the lakes themselves seem quite calm.
On Day Two we ventured out from our base-camp and day-tripped along a narrow ridge, and then scrabbled up to the summit of Mount Flett (elevation 6958 feet).
It was a challenging scramble, but we made it. There was a nice view at the top, and we had a few laughs, a few mishaps (mostly my navigation and route-finding), and a jolly good time.
When we got back to our base-camp we all had a well-deserved late afternoon nap and then dinner. After dinner I went to the lakeshore to do some writing and reflection (i.e. to examine my adventure). Here’s the view sitting at the lakeshore, looking Northwest:
And here’s what I wrote in my journal:
For me, the main point of this story is … that it is quite reasonable to imagine someone in the wilderness getting the sense “I was meant to be here … I was meant to do this”.
This feeling has been very strong throughout my life. But when I started to read about Callings and Dharma things got taken to the next level. I remember the first time I read John Muir’s quote:
And I instantly recognized that I too was Called to the mountains.
A Calling is more than a mere “liking” (as in “Oh yeah, I like hiking”), more than a preference, more than a pleasant activity. A Calling demands something of you. For the most part, a Calling happens within the Catastrophe.
I am hoping that this simple story helps to set the stage. I plan to post more Dharma stories in this blog — stories of “meant-to-be”, stories of a person being aware of their Dharma (their Fate, their Destiny, their Calling) in the midst of their adventure. Please stay tuned …