Finding destiny in the details

PR for People® Reviews:

Finding destiny in the details

Callings – Dave Isay

Penguin Press – 272 pp - $26

   Bookstores have shelves full of motivational books that promise wealth creation, happier lives, and sculpted bodies.

   The truth is, most of these books do contain helpful kernels of wisdom, but it’s hard to ignore the feeling that many of them also seem to be part of a strategy to get you to buy into a bigger scheme – an author’s training seminar, or direct sales business, or ministry.

   The authors’ advice seems to be working – but first and foremost for themselves.

   I’d like to direct you to a different kind of book about destiny.

   “Callings” is a compilation of personal reflections taped by StoryCorps, the non-profit dedicated to collecting and sharing the oral histories of Americans from around the country.

  Using poet Mary Oliver’s well-known line as the epigraph (“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”), this book offers up transcripts of interviews with folks who have found their life’s purpose.

   Some people pursue their career with intention – most social workers, teachers, nurses and cops are in it for the satisfaction of doing good, as well as for the paycheck.

   But for others, the deeper meaning of their work becomes apparent only after they’ve begun working somewhere.

   Two sanitation workers talk about the value in their teamwork. A bar owner recalls how how she developed a profit-sharing plan with her employees. There are stories from bricklayers, beekeepers and beer vendors. A farmer talks about some of the hardships he has faced, but remembers what his dad told him, “You can’t whip a man that don’t quit.”

   Gradually, it becomes clear that no matter the job title, work that is performed with dedication and resilience can be gratifying in more than financial ways.

   “Callings” is about service and connection – finding destiny in the details, and gratification in the big picture.


Barbara Lloyd McMichael is our ground reporter in South King County, Wash., and author of the syndicated book review column “The Bookmonger.” Her PR for People® Book Review is written exclusively for The Connector. 


Barbara McMichael

Barbara Lloyd McMichael is based in the Pacific Northwest and writes about books and culture. She writes a syndicated weekly book review column called  “The Bookmonger” that focuses on Northwest books and authors. Her PR for People® Book Review is written exclusively for The Connector. 

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