Most of you don’t now this but my mom was a missionary for the Baha’i Faith while I was growing up. Since we lived in Alaska that involved jumping in tiny planes and flying around the state. There weren’t always roads where my mother brought her faith and frankly there wasn’t always a lot of interest in what she had to say either. The Aleuts and Athabascans seemed fine with the faith they were raised in and our pilgrimages around the tundra seemed at best invasive and at worst condescending. Though I didn’t admire her calling I did admire that she had one. It was the most powerful thing in her life and it gave her strength in times when she had nothing else.
This weekend I helped one of our storytellers Keith with his own calling. He just started a sports camp for blind kinds called Camp Abilities and he asked if I’d like to partner up with one of the kids. I have no idea how to throw a javelin and even less of an idea how to throw a discus but I saw the same devotion in him that I saw in my mother so I told him to I’d do it. I just got back a couple of hours ago and I’m still smiling over watching those kids throw down their canes to kick soccer balls, run toward beeping bases, and sprint 100 meters while holding onto their sighted helpers with a little bit of rope.
Most of my life I wished I could find my own calling. I’ve seen first hand how powerful it is to be called to do something, even a little something. I saw my son spend two years helping kids at the YMCA for almost no money because he knew some of them needed a good role model, someone who showed up every day just to pay them some attention. I saw a guy down here in Olympia hold up a peace sign every day for an hour at the corner of 5th and Legion. He never said a word. He just stood there quietly holding that sign for years until one day he wasn’t there anymore. I don’t know the reasons why he did what he did but I always admired his devotion.
Sometimes we’re called to inaction. Why did I stay in relationships longer than I should have? Why did I try to rescue a girl from a pimp once when any sane person would have just walked away? Why did I spend so many years onstage pretending to be someone I wasn’t? I can’t call any of those things a calling but I can say that I was absolutely compelled to do the things that I did.
I’m just now starting to understand the reasons I did or didn’t do those things. Luckily for you I was out of town for work last week and then spent the weekend running around a track with blind kids so I don’t have time to tell you those stories. But you guys now have a month to come up with your own stories of why you were compelled to do some of the crazy, weird, scary or inexplicable things you’ve done in your life.
Our next show is Thursday, October 27, at 7pm at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.
This month’s theme is “Called to Action - Stories of being compelled to do something.” Bring a story about a time you did something that you never thought you’d do. Or maybe a story about a time you were compelled to do nothing but now wish you had. I don’t know if this theme will resonate with anyone but I’m going to give it a shot. The only thing I ask is that you keep the stories on a personal level and not a political or religious level. I know that’s a fuzzy line but if you have any questions about a story you want to tell please email me.
Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud on friends or pets, and make sure it’s under 8 minutes. Here are the updated Rules & Guidelines for telling a story at the show:
I hope to see you on the 27th!