Realistic Employment Workshops: Life Purpose and Calling (Einstein's God, part 1)

A True Story about Two Other True-Life Stories

With so many of our unemployed neighbors currently needing a job ("any job," they often say), some have asked me, "Max, why do your Realistic Employment Workshops put so much emphasis on the word 'realistic'?"

In other words, why do I recommend that people with an employment challenge should take time for self-analysis to better understand themselves, to think more deeply about where they might truly belong, where they will have no competition (because there is no one else like them), and thus more likely will find successful, long-term employment. This true story about two other true-life stories helps illustrate my answer, and much else besides.

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, January 12, 2011, in the unspectacular part of the Chicago western suburbs where I live, I visited the pastor's class for laymen at a relatively liberal Protestant church. The class topic was chapter 6 in Krista Tippett's book Einstein's God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit (Penguin Books, 2010), which was a transcript of her conversation with Janna Levin (cosmologist, Ph.D. in theoretical physics, MIT 1993) entitled "Mathematics, Purpose, and Truth," first recorded on National Public Radio on February 22, 2009 (sound version still available on the internet).

During the course of the discussion, I pointed to a passage on page 148 where Dr. Levin, who never finished high school due to a car accident, said she didn't go to college to study science, but one semester she attended a philosophy class that gave many interesting but inconclusive sides to different questions, much to her dissatisfaction, until one day a scientist visited the class to discuss quantum mechanics. Dr. Levin said the room got very quiet, because the philosophy students apparently did not know how to respond to the likes of QM and Einstein.

From that day forward, Janna Levin says, she found her life purpose and calling in the study of physics.

The church class moderator (the pastor was out of town) then asked, "Does anyone remember their own 'Aha!' moment?" (For the uninitiated, this is how church teachers routinely turn remote texts into personal challenges.) He might have asked, "Does anyone remember their own 'Aha!' moment about science?" since the topic was most obviously about science, but he didn't do that. If he had, then we would not have had the privilege of hearing a woman visiting the class her second week (as I was) tell her own wonderful story, which I wrote down later that night as best I could recall it, and retell here:

About 22 years ago I needed a job, and I saw an ad about a job at a nursing home though I knew nothing whatsoever about nursing homes. They took my application, but their schedule needs didn't fit mine, and I forgot all about it.

A year or so later, however, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the nursing home asking if I was still interested in a job. I said I was and made an appointment to check it out.

After the interview, which seemed to go very well, the personnel manager said that this kind of work wasn't for everyone, so she wanted to take me on a complete tour of the facility so I could see what I would be dealing with if I came to work there.

She explained the building had four flours. First floor had regular older people able to function mostly for themselves. Second floor had those with various disabilities who needed more attention. Third floor had hospice cases and the like. Fourth floor had people with dementia in more advanced stages.

So we started on a tour through the building. First floor, pretty nice people, everyone saying hello as we went by. Second floor, residents obviously had more problems, not as friendly. Third floor, attendants and family people commiserating with hospice and other difficult cases.

As we got off the elevator on the fourth floor, and out into the hallway, a woman obviously in advanced stages of dementia burst out of her door, and when the manager said, "Hello, Sally!" the lady let out a blood-curdling shriek, then tore off all her clothes from the waist up, flung them down on the floor, and took off running down the hall half-naked and laughing like only a totally crazy woman could. I turned to the manager to get her explanation, but she was herself already running down the hallway after the woman crying out, "Sally! Sally! Sally!"

I stood there in utter amazement, but strange as it may seem, in that very moment I said to myself, "Here ... is where I ... belong!"

That was the most important "Aha!" moment in my life, and ever since that day, the nursing home has been my only career. For more than 20 years now, I've never worked anywhere else.

On that Wednesday night, hearing that one story was, to me, well worth missing even the President's important 7 p.m. speech which I was able to hear later anyway, via replay after I got home.

Nothing interests me more than these kinds of revealing personal stories from the depths of individual experience, esp. where people discover important life lessons or find their own essential life purpose and calling. I once wanted to put together an annual book of such stories, which didn't work out, but at least I do encourage people to tell their stories, and write them down if possible. HubPages makes an excellent place to do that kind of writing without charge, and yet get friendly, constructive feedback from others.

That is why my school puts this kind of material from its Writers Workshop program on HubPages, available without charge to anyone in the world interested in writing. And that is why we put such materials from our Realistic Employment Workshops on HubPages, without charge, first, to help any unemployed person, but second, to inspire other professionals (or would-be professionals) to start one of our weekly workshops in their own home or other local venue, and perhaps grow along with us and make a career out of helping people come to terms with themselves, and thus, more likely, with the rest of the world.

We also, of course, accept individual clients who want specific help, and we even accept money for our services in some cases, but only after first consultations show we both want to go forward on that basis. (For those who scorn pay for such services, and claim they do it free, I have nothing but admiration and goodwill, but in my experience, many people will not respect or follow advice they get for free.)

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Copyright (c) 2011 by The Max Havlick School, a project of New World Community Enterprises, Inc., Villa Park, Illinois 60181-1938. You may contact Max directly and confidentially via e-mail through HubPages.

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