As soon as he had his copy of my new book in his hands, The Wonder of Books, he made this striking remark: “Congratulations for answering to the vocation of sitting down.” The idea was entirely new to me; haven’t heard that there was such a vocation. I only knew two: marriage and pastoring. It happened that my friend, Valentine, just came up with a third, one we should all aspire to. Of course, I asked him to explain, the details of which I herein share.
To kick-start his lecture, he waved the book across my face and asked me, “Can you sum up the entire time, from the very start to finish, it took you to getting this piece out, especially with respect to arriving at this quality and volume?” I couldn’t immediately do that summation because arriving at an answer that is close to the truth should take pretty much time; I’d never even given it a thought. But it was a rhetorical question; Val already could guess it took some great deal of time, and it truly and really did.
He was getting at a point I didn’t suspect with that question, as he wanted to put it to me that the work got me sitting down way more than the average person could – not even he himself. I felt my ego raise its head in response to those kind words, but since I wasn’t in for an ego trip and was hell-bent on getting the full gist on the vocation of sitting down, I queried further, “How is sitting down a vocation, then?”
Beginning from his own routine, and proceeding to implicate those with whom he lived and worked, he made this explanation: “Running around is easy, just being busy being busy is fun and anyone can do that. But those who dare to sit down for as long as it would take to produce a fine work of art, of course through creative thinking and continuous reflection, are very much in the minority. And they are the ones that change the world.” I was starting to feel like a world changer when he continued, “My dear friend, it is just not easy; I can’t. I even struggle to get by with my coursework.” Knowing that he was being both sincere and truthful, I gently concurred, and then got us another topic to discuss.
My case was that of writing a book, but the vocation of sitting down is a universal call. Given that we all aspire to stand out, then sitting down is the way. And here is what happens when we dare to sit down, and practically “sit down” I mean: we generate original ideas and conjure up creativity from the depth of our being, which when deployed to our various and varied stations in life yield striking accomplishments and birth unusual discoveries. In fact, in sitting down, in the company of sober reflection, we become one with God!
In a noisy world like ours, and one that privileges activity over productivity, this vocation may not only be challenging but frustrating. Next to every neighbor turns up the volume of their stereo like they’re the only ones in town, next to every driver blares the horn like they’re pushing the other driver to jump the queue and pay a fine, next to every convoy menaces the peace of the neighborhood with their ostentatious sirens, next to every loved one wants us to unendingly lend them our ears – to fill them with gossips and junks. Personally, I’d to sometimes put writing on hold for a sibling to watch a movie or blast the music stereo. These realities further complicate things for us – with regards this vocation.
However, we can dare to try. Just try. Why not wake up early before dawn to answer to the vocation of sitting down. After all, Longfellow revealed that great men got there by doing their thing while their ‘companions’ slept. Why not watch your social network outing. Why not take a walk to a lonely place. Why not turn off your phone. Why not just try…