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Stephen Martin - The Messy Quest for MeaningA Prolonged Conversation with a Wise Mentor

A Review of

The Messy Quest for Meaning: Five Catholic Practices for Finding Your Vocation

Stephen Martin

Paperback: Sorin Books, 2012
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Reviewed by Kevin McClain.

Some people form, at a very young age, a strong sense of what they want to be when they grow up. These people are fixated on a destination, and they move through life assured of their meaning. Such people know what education will best help them achieve their goal and what activities, including employment, satisfies their quest. Other people find themselves in jobs in which they are fully capable, but which fail to resonate with them at a deeper level. They have a gnawing sense that something is just not matching up; they are not quite in the right place, there is more they could be doing. Sometimes this feeling overwhelms them with angst, which may foster serious health conditions or worse, bad coping habits. How should one respond to such people? One response would be to tell them that the disconnected feeling is normal; it’s called “work” for a reason. Humanity is fallen, and work is part of the curse. There really is no escaping that feeling, and so the best strategy is to “tough it out” in the most socially responsible manner possible. Develop hobbies – that is their purpose. Find the job that pays your bills best and push through the misery until you can retire. Everyone has a public self and a private self, and only the very few are able to have the two selves meet. You should not be surprised if you are not one of those privileged few (less the definition of “privileged few” lose its meaning!). The other response can be found in books like Stephen Martin’s The Messy Quest for Meaning. A book written for people like me.

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