Reviews for Callings
BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB
In the tradition of Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow and The Soul’s Code comes this beautifully written book that reveals how you can discover----and then become----what you were always meant to be.
Callings is a book that speaks to all readers who feel they may have hit a rut in their love lives or a dead end at work. Gregg Levoy tunes you in to the hard-to-spot signals that indicate a change is needed----and the gives you the tools to make the change. Signs of frustration might include friction in the workplace, something as simple as the song lyrics you can’t get out of your head, or even chronic back pain.
He warns you against false starts, telling you how to discern if the call is true and brave the conflicts change can bring. Finally, Levoy illustrates his lessons with touching, intimate stories of people who found their true calling, as well as profound insights on the subject from world-renowned philosophers and artists.
In an enthusiastic review, Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words, acclaims Callings: “Stunning! Wonderful! Levoy writes like a poet. His material is both spiritual and practical. I don’t know another book that deals with callings in quite the same way.”
Levoy’s book is going to charge off the shelves. Not because it is jam-packed with startling new information: mostly, it is just solid, commonsensical advice. Not because it is by a self-help celebrity or vaunted spiritual leader: Levoy is a newcomer, virtually unknown. Not because it shows a quick and easy way to enlightenment: it is full of challenge and even contradiction.
What will draw readers to it is Levoy’s authority and his ravishing way with language.
His announced subject is vocation, but the question of how we know we are doing what we should be doing crosses over into relationships, spiritual paths, creative work, and other areas of life. Accordingly, Levoy, though he keeps refocusing on right livelihood, uses stories and images to expand his and our search for calling.
These stories and images are so precious, so precise, that they make this the kind of book people call each other about, late at night, to share favorite passages. From the first paragraph, which describes seeing sunlit pollen pouring through spring air and thereby understanding the hidden messages that surround us, Levoy selects just the telling image, the evocative tale, the perfect quotation to illuminate his meaning. A book to savor.
Gregg Levoy approaches the subject of callings in a way quite different from that of most of the authors reviewed here. While he does offer “Callings” workshops, he is primarily a freelance writer by profession, and he brings well-honed literary skills to his discussion. Some readers will keenly appreciate the result: Levoy’s book is a indeed a feast of prose. (However, readers who are looking for more breezy how-to advice may find the book too verbose.)
By the word calling, the author refers not just to career. This book, he writes, “is about remembering our vocations----in the true sense of the word-----whether they are vocations in the area of work, relationship, lifestyle or service. They may be calls to do something (become self-employed, go back to school, leave or start a relationship, move to the country, change careers, have a child) or calls to be something (more creative, less judgmental, more loving, less fearful).”
Callings is filled with wise observations about life. Of all the authors reviewed here, he is the only one to note that in following one’s bliss or finding one’s purpose, sacrifice is always necessary. While sacrifice is usually seen as deprivation, Levoy notes that it is an “essential fact of life....each time we sacrifice-----each time we let go of something, die to an old way of being----we are practicing for bigger and bigger surrenders, eventually for what M. Scott Peck calls ‘the final vocation: growing old gracefully.’ “
On nearly every page Levoy inserts pithy quotes from his literary and spiritual heroes----Annie Dillard, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Merton, Toni Morrison, Thomas Moore.
The book also overflows with stories----first-person anecdotes from the author’s own experience, and tales related in countless interviews and conversations with others. We meet fascinating people like Fran Peavey, who came up with the idea of sitting on park benches all over the world, holding a sign saying, “American Willing to Listen,” and who went on to write the book Heart Politics. Or like Sharon Matola, who runs the only zoo in Belize, caring for animals used in making wildlife films who could not survive in the wild afterward.
Callings is a long literary journey, but the author makes it an entertaining and rewarding one. “In saying yes to our calls,” he writes, “we bring flesh to word and form to faith. We bring substance to dreams, to passions, and to the ancient urgencies. We ground ourselves in life and bring ourselves into being as alchemists and magicians in their finest hours.” By the end of the journey, we are encouraged not only to listen more carefully to our own callings, but to answer with honesty and conviction.”
–Review by Michael Davis
NEALE DONALD WALSCH
author of Conversations With God
How to hear, and follow, that “still small voice”. A book about listening to Life’s messages that could change you forever.
I am reading right now a wonderful book, full of wisdom. It is Gregg Levoy’s Callings, and it is about each person’s own conversations with God.
Gregg believes that we are all “called.” Life calls to us, God calls to us, our souls call to us. And the call is, primarily, an announcement of the need for change. If we respond, our response takes the form of an awakening of some kind.
Says Gregg, “A call is only a monologue. A return call, a response, creates a dialogue. Our own unfolding requires that we be in constant dialogue with whatever is calling us.”
Let me repeat that. Our own unfolding requires that we be in constant dialogue with whatever is calling us.
In once sentence that is the message of Conversations With God.
Gregg’s book is not only filled with wisdom, it is inspiring. And illuminating.
It is one of the clearest pieces of writing I have seen on how to hear “that still small voice” and understand what it is saying to us.
“We want our lives to catch fire and burn blue, not smolder,” Gregg says. “We want to use ourselves up, leave this life the way we entered it-----complete----and die with a yes on our lips, and not a no, making that last transition.....with some grace, with eyes wide open and not squeezed shut as if for a blow. We don’t want to enter Kingdom Come kicking and screaming and begging for more time. Following our calls is one way to love our lives, to flood them with light that can shine back out of them, and to make life easier to explain to ourselves when it’s over.....”
This is a wonderful book for anyone now moving through a transition in his or her life-----or wondering about whether one should be made. It is a book about how to take action and make choices that speak from the deepest place of Who We Are.
It is a book of special insight, calling us to listen to our callings, to hear them, to follow them now.
What is a “calling?” It is an invitation from Life, telling us about our next step. It may even be a tiny article in a small newsletter, telling you about a book to next explore....
Listening for your life’s deepest call
Writer Gregg Levoy, starting a four-month break from work, realized he “needed ‘space’----distance from all that was pressing in on me. I needed a penetrating quiet inside, and I needed to hold that silence up to my ears, like an empty shell, and listen to the roar of my own life. I had to try to make out what direction to take next. When I told a colleague what I planned to do now.....he asked, ‘What are you, rich?’ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Desperate.’ “
This spirit of passionate inquiry suffuses Levoy’s pragmatic, guided approach to creating a more authentic life, in Callings. He helps the reader to identify what a calling is, how to prepare oneself to better hear the calls in our lives, how to actively invoke callings, and then what to do with them. The book’s latter two parts, “Saying No to Calls” and “Saying Yes to Calls,” are excellent, alone worth the price of the book. In contrast to a popular but overly simplistic and linear “create your own reality” philosophy, Levoy warns that simply following our callings doesn’t guarantee any particular outcome.
He describes the discovery one morning of a fallen birds’ nest, so carefully constructed twig by twig and now scattered, eggs smashed on a stone below, by the wind, a random act of wildness. We take our chances out there in the world. We go ahead and build our nests, dreams, callings, in the face of a blowing wind. We hope they’re secure, but we don’t know.....We might follow our callings and, after heroic efforts, just when we are ready to rest under a tree with the fruits of our labor, we’re called to rally again. And maybe yet again after that. Great struggles aren’t inevitably followed by great triumphs and then great vacations. Sometimes great struggles are followed by more great struggles. Maybe triumph and reward ensue, and maybe not.
For some this may sound discouraging or even frightening, but there is another way to look at it. In letting go of attachment to a particular form or outcome, we are free to follow our callings for their own sake, because it is right for us to do, because it is what life asks of us here, today, now.
Levoy so skillfully weaves the wisdom and insights of an amazing variety of sources and authors into his text that one barely notices how scholarly and well-researched the book actually is. Following along as easily as if one were floating on a gentle stream, it becomes clear that the crafter of this experience is indeed “called” to the work of the writer. From his first sentence to his last, Levoy’s writing is a feast, filled with rich description, provocative metaphors, and passionate aliveness.
Callings can inspire us to listen more deeply to the truth of our own lives, and, more important, to respond to what we hear-----and that dialogue can make all the difference.
–Reviewed by Janet F. Quinn
A “calling” may not come in the form of a booming voice from the sky, complete with lightning flashes and claps of thunder. Levoy, a workshop leader and adjunct professor of journalism at the University of New Mexico, suggests that callings are in fact everywhere, waiting to be heard and acted upon./p>
Through informal yet encouraging anecdotes and advice, Levoy guides readers to recognize and pursue their callings in work, relationships, lifestyle choices and service to others. Callings can come through many different channels, including physical symptoms, synchronicities (events that are connected to one another in time), intuitions, dreams----even fortune cookie messages. All one need do is recognize them, and take action.
Combining the psychology of self-actualization with spirituality, he calls on readers to do what their souls have long been telling them to do. For Levoy, realizing one’s own potential and awakening to callings makes it possible to do virtually anything, from quitting one’s job to saving the whales. Not doing so, he claims, can lead to maladies from restlessness and depression to physical illnesses: “We cannot refuse with impunity.”
In the crowded field of books about letting go and listening to the heart, Levoy’s guidance and encouragement reward those willing to lend an ear to their conscience.