I received the sweetest Christmas gift from my brother this year – tickets to watch Fred Penner with my Dad at a local theatre. Fred Penner is a Canadian children`s folk singer who used to perform live and on television in the 1980s and 1990s; a true gem during the days of Mr. Dressup, and Schoolhouse Rock.
The tickets were a complete surprise, and even more unbelievable was how fun it was to witness the storyteller of my youth, alongside little children leaping and shouting out at Fred Penner. There was a two year old girl who walked along the front of the stage. Fred stopped, smiled and very sweetly said, “there’s a baby down there,” signalling to the child’s father to help him pick her up. After helping her wave to the audience and say hello, Fred returned the child to her father. She immediately held out her arms at Fred, silently asking to be held again. Fred explained that he should let the little girl leave with his father before getting too attached. Then he chuckled, turned back to the audience and said, “Penner’s still got it!”
A classic storyteller, I was surprised to hear from Fred Penner that he has four children, the eldest being 32 years old. That meant that when I was a child, watching Fred’s television show and singing along to classics like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “The Cat Came Back,” he had small children at home my age, doing the same thing.
There is a fascinating documentary called Being Elmo where Kevin Clash speaks about his journey to discover and breathe life into the popular Sesame Street puppet. In the 1990s when the Tickle Me Elmo doll was the overwhelmingly sought-after Santa gift of the season, Kevin speaks of enjoying the rise of his career while managing the guilt of missing his young daughter at home. While he travelled the world bringing joy and hope to young children as Elmo, his daughter often wished that he would give her the same joy as her dad.
It`s December – the season of joy, guilt and reflection. This is that special time of the year when people make time to see those they neglect and especially try to spend time with those they love. But the notion of whether to spend time with family and children while pursuing career aspirations is complicated. By virtue of how they spend their lives, I’m sure that Fred Penner and Kevin Clash would agree that when you truly find your calling, you’re no longer pursuing career aspirations, you’re simply living your life. Allowing yourself to spend your time doing the work that you are meant to do, you are bringing fulfillment into your life that can’t be matched. By preventing yourself from focusing on your career, you may be sacrificing more of yourself than by embracing the joy that your calling could bring.
If this truly is the season of joy, guilt and reflection, give yourself the time to reflect on your career as a calling. What are you meant to be spending your time doing? How do you choose to spend your time, and does your work environment allow you to be the best that you can be? Will you allow yourself to spend time doing work that brings you joy?