There’s a passage in Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro that’s been eating at me for months now, nibbling, little bites here and there, working on me, the passage about shadow calling. It’s such an interesting notion, to consider whether we’re stopping ourselves short of the leap, of really jumping off into who we are and could be.
That jumping off takes balls.
Since I read that, I’ve been asking myself, mostly in little unconscious whispers, whether the bookkeeping work, which is the bulk of what I’ve been doing for the past year, is my shadow calling. Is it work that is close to the work I *should* be doing, that I’m MEANT to do, but is not that work, might indeed be a distraction from it?
This is not an entirely pleasant line of questioning when one has launched a business with bookkeeping at its core. Which is probably why this questioning has been going on under wraps, when I’m sleeping, when I’m not thinking directly about it.
Still I wasn’t all that unprepared when, on June 24th, it hit me.
I had a mini-piphany.
I’d been feeling frustrated about something, about a text or an email I’d received. I was feeling pressured and stressed about time and deliverables. And a small part of me was angry, too. Which felt weird because I wasn’t sure who or what I was angry at.
I opened my notebook and wrote these words, quickly, without thought, writing them as they popped into my head.
i am not your numbers-bitch.
i would rather be your business witch.
As soon as I wrote it down, I sat back and thought, hmm. Where’d that come from?
‘Cause that’s how it is with epiphanies, even mini-piphanies. It’s like the knowledge descends on you from somewhere, or rises up from some unknown depth. It emerges, like it came from somewhere not here, not me, not now. And yet there it is.
And with epiphanies, once that knowledge descends, there’s no way to un-know it. Now you just have to live with it, act on it, do it.
So that idea of being a numbers-bitch. That. For me, I realized after I wrote the words, after I thought about what those words expressed, that being the numbers-bitch, being someone’s bitch, meant that I was just having to robotically deliver on some task that was less than what I’m capable of, someone’s drudge, doing their dirty, unpleasant work, without any hope of higher purpose or outcome. It’s not that I don’t like the bookkeeping – oh, I love it, the tidiness, the order, the clarity. It’s just that that is not the sum-total of what I’m capable of. It was an easy way to launch, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could stay there, just delivering that, but that would be sticking with the shadow calling.
Staying with the shadow calling is safe.
But there’s a trade-off. And I don’t know about you, but I know for me: not interested in being anyone’s bitch, thanks. I don’t want to be your drudge, your scullery maid, your clean-up woman. No, thank you. I’ll handle those repetitive simple tasks that others find unpleasant, but ONLY so that I can do more than that. So that I can use those tasks as a jumping off point for bigger questions, for questions that matter, for questions that make my heart jump around. Because those questions are the real calling.
I’ve been resisting writing about this for a month. Epiphanies have a way of setting fire to things, a burn that is not always controllable. Still, these words have been echoing for several weeks. They have formed the platform of several significant decisions I’ve made recently. And mostly they’ve changed how I think about my work, what I offer, what I want to offer, how I want to serve.
That’s how an epiphany is. That's the burn. It comes out of nowhere at a precise moment and changes you. Or actually, to be more precise, it changes your thinking. And you change you.
Ask yourself. In your work, do you feel like somebody’s bitch? How’s that working out for you? What would it feel like, look like, to be nobody’s bitch, be your own Whatever, step into your real calling, out from the shadow?
You could wait for your own epiphany. You could. Or you could act now. Leave the shadow behind. Do Your Thing.