Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vocation: undecided; women and their choices

Here's an interesting third-hand quote I heard attributed to Luciano Pavarotti, or actually, his father. Along the lines of "most brilliant career advice, ever."

Young Luciano couldn't decide what to do for a career, and he had two distinct choices in mind: singing or teaching. His father told him, so the story goes: "You cannot sit in two chairs, or you will fall between them. Make one choice for your life, and devote your complete energy to it." Thus was born a great tenor. The moral of this story is be completely committed to a single path in life, never wavering from it, and you, too, will be famous and win many accolades.

My dad never gave me such sage advice, and so I suppose a metaphor for my life thus far would be that I've stumbled among countless chairs, weaving and bobbing like a drunken sailor, never settling on just one. But how could you choose unless you first found out more information about each choice? Tried it on for size? Gave it a few months, or years? I plead insufficient information to make a firm decision, even now. About anything. The jury's out. And, had I chosen just one chair, I yawn to think what the journey would have been like.

I also wonder if women are able to glide into one vocation so seamlessly. Women still keep the hearth, and raise the children ... not because they have to, but because those are also their vocations. A few of many that span a single lifetime. Women still tend to be the nurturers, and less interested in pursuing ambition and the prizes that attend it. I know I describe myself accurately.

Women still tend to be defined by their relationships with others, not because we are second-class citizens, but because our own value system defines relationships as paramount -- more important than a self-definition. This is a generalization, but my women friends who seem the most satisfied and complete are the ones who are not on a hard-line vocational track. It's still relatively rare to find a woman who is blazing a professional trail and seems completely at ease doing so. Instead, I have observed in my limited experience that such a woman seems quite isolated.

I am not trying to throw daggers at successful career women or discourage anyone, but to explain my own perceptions. I cheer the women who hold important, high-profile positions in businesses and the political realm. Women need to have a voice at the top ranks of every organization. If this were true, I think we would be much more hesitant to declare war or to wreak destruction on one another in other ways, as well. I think nations might find it more possible to work cooperatively, not combatively, using a more feminine leadership style. Perhaps.

If I had a choice, I would always prefer to be a woman than a man. We have emotional and lifestyle freedoms that continue to elude men. We (women) are the creators, we are Mother Earth, and we are also Mother Nature. Wily, unpredictable, bearers of supreme power over life and death. There's some potent stuff going on there. Who needs a stupid career, anyhow? I am WOMAN!

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