BurnoutRecently, a friend teetered back and forth about leaving a Midwest University for a small religious seminary. As an instructor in pastoral counseling her skills are exceedingly revered. Mix that with a personal desire to teach pastoral counseling in a religious environment and the potential became alluring.

Leaving her current position as full-time faculty in a Midwest University was about righting the wrongs of her personal life.

I don’t have enough time in a day,” she quipped. “I don’t have enough time for myself. I don’t have enough time for my family. My husband gets whatever’s left at the end of the day … and that’s not much.

But if I take this job, I’m only 20 miuntes from work.

The decision to leave any position for another is taxing. But due to poor financial solvency and decreased interest in religious education, the seminary offered an uncertain employment future.

But there’s such a thing as quality of life. And her life wasn’t it. Therein lays the problem. Looking at all the couples in my life, most find no way to align all of life’s pieces. Compromises and sacrifices litter any lifestyle and money, regardless of income, cannot purchase the one thing wanted – time.

Like basketball’s 24 second shot clock, time is finite. Getting ahead and winning with success is neither ideological or a goal. We awake in the wee hours of the morning to make lists. We’re cut off from the larger community and when we do slow – we get bored – very quickly. Our marriages become business and the hunger for living remains aloof as we beg God for a compass, pray in tears and beg for signs.

From a Buddhist perspective, the cocoon we construct tends to foster a hedonistic lifestyle and it’s likely our lifestyle was cultivated by values far removed from the attitudes and struggle of the ordinary. Our views and goals are etched by Christmas movies and advertising.

When the living Buddha was unable to reconcile his life of protected splendor with the harsh truths of aging, illness, and death, his worldview was challenged. As his realization deepened, he understood that despite privilege, he was not immune to the way life unfolds; he suffered the same fate as others.

No one passes through life without scratches, whether physically or mentally. Without emotions, such as suffering from pain, loving, or laughing, life is not worth living. Yet, in the secret chambers of the mind, most believe the very thoughts and emotions we cultivate are what we deserve. Thus, we suffer because we affirm a life not worth affirming.

We must become people who can overcome, through willpower or higher power, to create a form of life worth repeating. We must find a vocation, not a professional career. What’s the difference? A vocation is an act of love – which is contrary to most professional careers.