one necessity.

Posted on October 12, 2009


We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – even of silence – by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled & supple way, to locate the most tender & live spot & plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.

I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity & not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you…seize it & let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out & drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds & let your very bones unhinge & scatter, loosened over fields, over fields & woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.

Annie Dillard

I’m staring at the computer screen in a daze.

This quote has haunted me from a worn & tattered index card sitting on my desk for a solid week.

Why does it seem so much easier for other people to pursue their calling? I mean, don’t you know those people? Those who “came to live deliberately” & “suck the marrow out of life” & beat the “sweaty toothed madmen” of our day? I do. And it’s not me.

This doesn’t mean I’m not effected by Dillard’s quote. Quite the opposite, really. When I first saw this, my breath quickened & my heart rate skipped a beat & my mind started racing.

What would happen if I stalked my calling in a skilled and supple way?

To be honest, I really don’t know. I do know I love my job. I love my students. I love my two week Christmas break and my summer vacation. I love passing on the joy & wonder of literature & the deep satisfaction of writing until you are emotionally spent.

But I know there’s more.

I find this disconnect in the second paragraph – grasping your one necessity & not letting it go.

Is teaching my one necessity? No. And I even hesitate to write that because really? It seems kind of…harsh. But my purpose is not teaching. My purpose is inspiring the youth to believe they can make a difference & telling the stories of those who have been forgotten & fighting for the orphan & destitute until I am blue in the face….

Yeah. There’s my one necessity.

I’ve had this conflict for awhile – I’ve even written about it. And the only thing I can come up with is that as long as I am struggling – as long as I am pushing & prodding & tripping & moving – perhaps I am more skilled and supple than I thought.

What is your dream? No. Really. Dig deep. What is it that completely makes your heart scream in delight?

Stalk it. You may not get there tomorrow; you may not get there next year. But you’ll be moving…and sometimes, that’s all we can do.

tell me: what is your one necessity?