Thursday, July 2, 2015

Vocation

ChicagoWiz has arisen.  But we're not to call it a comeback.

In forming a short note of encouragement for Michael, I've realized a description of myself that needs elaboration.

I have never viewed D&D as a 'hobby.'

Vocation: a call, a summons; an occupation to which a person is specially drawn, suited, trained or qualified.

According to wikipedia, the word's meaning shifted from religious calling to emphasizing an individual's talents and abilities for the purpose of making money with the reformer Frank Parsons.  Parsons invented the premise of matching your talents with your chosen vocation, to encourage individuals to find their niche in life and ultimately to contribute to the public good.  People working in jobs that they hated, theorized Parsons, contributed to the greatest evil in the world.

Alas, of all the things I could have been 'called' to, I had to choose this.  A game.  A game so far out on the fringe that even when it is mentioned by the media, representations of it are so woefully twisted and vague that it serves better as a vehicle for humour than for serious consideration.  A game run by one company that doesn't give a shit about it, as it really only exists as an image-friendly bastard child for a card game - a card game that is won by purchasing more cards.

This.  I had to pick this.  It puts me in mind of Irish monks toiling away their whole lives to produce perhaps a dozen copies of a single book, sitting and quietly wasting away in tiny, unheated stone rooms heaped upon miserable, treeless shores, blasted by North Atlantic storms.  Monks who counted themselves lucky that they were allowed to do this.  Without coin, without companionship, with only the faith of a better existence after death to sustain them.

I, on the other hand, am not foolish enough to believe in an after-life.  I have no faith, no surety of reward, no succor from the consequence of eventual starvation.  I have only the now, the drive, the application of this thing I have trained myself intensively to do well, this thing that I love, this thing that I have tried to make a vocation in the Parsons sense.  It is absolutely and without question a vocation in its traditional context.

Which is why, I am sure, I have harped so much on the context of money within the posts on this blog.  If I were a consultant, I would seek contracts in the hopes of paying my bills.  If I were a renovator, I would advertise and hope clients would find me.  If I were a peddler, I would be knocking on doors.  If I were a prostitute, I'd be on the street.  Instead, I am here, this blogosphere, this small collection of participants in the same game, writing.  Pitching books.  Asking for donations.  Seeking odd jobs to cover my expenses while waiting for the chosen vocation to kick in.

The thing about vocations and callings, they're not based on a choice.  It isn't a question of doing the thing that will make the best money.  This is what Parsons recognized a century ago.  We can, and will, do that job that pays the bills because we do not like to starve.  Because losing our home and our things terrifies us.  But we will never succeed at that job because we hate it.  We will never reconcile the money with our unhappiness.  We won't because we can't.  It isn't a choice.  It is nature.

I've done a lot of jobs.  Recently the economy is in a sink-hole and prospects are fading, to the point where I am wondering if this isn't the inevitable road to the bottom right now.  People are fleeing from my building.  They're fleeing the city.  There is no work to be found.

Right now, this one vocation, this is it.  This is my only income.  And it is laughably not enough.

If you cannot help me today - and most of you can't - then I ask you to please think about me tomorrow.

2 comments:

JB said...

@ Alexis:

Which came first: the vocation or the monastery? The "work" or the support system that allowed for it?

You clearly have a calling, but you need a system in place that will allow you to pursue it. Or maybe you don't...I suppose you might consider that you don't have enough time left on this plane as it is and want to accomplish as much as possible. But can you accomplish "as much as possible" without first getting the support in place?

I feel for you man. How about Patreon?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Well, JB, you may remember I did try to encourage the creation of a monastery, way back in 2009 - when I suggested the rules for game play could be developed by multiple persons working upon a single structure, for which one of my readers created the Same Universe Wiki. That was before I lost all my faith, all of it, in the greater community.

So it goes, yes?