A vocational journey

Today I welcome a guest blog from someone I have the honor of serving in a coaching relationship. Jordan’s going to share with us from time to time about the coaching process from his perspective. Here he shares with us his thoughts prior to our first coaching conversation.


“Live the questions”

by Jordan Walker

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

—Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

It’s probably just a terrible cliché for a young person to start a piece about the vocational journey (and those big girl/boy questions about life) with a Rilke quote, but what can you do? I’m reading LTAYP at present, and this whole “live the questions” deal seems to be some of the truer advice I’ve “received” about figuring things out—that is, if we ever really do.

Fortunately/Providentially, there are coaches and nice folks like Linda Zelnik, who feel called to walk alongside other folks in my kind of predicament. The story of how we connected is somewhat circuitous; I could offer some intro about three different types of clergy walking into a bar, but that seems gauche. In reality, we “met” through her desire to support Thistle Farms, a recovery community and social enterprise that serves women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. I work there in the Development Office and, true to form, have gone through a lot of personal transformations in my time attempting to be a grown-up for the full forty hours a week.

However, I still wouldn’t say I’ve gotten to my “distant day” that Rilke proffered his pupil over a hundred years ago as a goal for the journey. In short, I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but other, more adult-ish, folks around me say in very comforting aphorisms that there’s time. Nevertheless, I still feel all this pressure to figure it out and know at least something—“something” being knowledge beyond the fact that I would likely get queasy if I saw the sight of blood and that helping people seems to be the only really meaningful type of work one can do, in whatever forms that takes. So, Linda has kindly agreed to take me on, after some very kind email exchanges that began with me asking what could be possible between us, as a new coaching client for the next few weeks or so.

“May I be an isle for those who yearn for land, A lamp for those who long for light…”

The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Translation of the Bodhicharyavatara, Śāntideva (8th Century Buddhist Monk)

With that, I wouldn’t say I expect Linda to have all the answers (but she may very well); I suppose I’m just hoping for something a little more personal and impactful than the books/videos/webinars I’ve read/watched/participated on/in the topic that, while they offer great wisdom, don’t necessarily meet you where you exactly are…because they can’t.

Of course, on some level, I wonder if I do really “know” or feel who I am supposed to be in the world and am perhaps just a little too afraid to reach for it, or even ask the question, “It is possible?” (In anticipation of working together, all I can say is best of luck to you, Linda…)

However, in all seriousness, I’m just grateful for a new conversation partner and guide. There are many rivers, and they all flow into the ocean. It’s just a matter of getting there. Thus, I imagine Linda might have come along at just this time to help me with just that question, getting there.



Jordan Walker is a non-profit professional living in Nashville, TN. He holds both a B.S. in Health & Human Services and Women’s Studies and an M.Div from Vanderbilt University. His background includes Development/Fundraising, PR, Social Media, Hospitality/Community Engagement, and Website Development. Fun facts include that Jordan completed Yoga Teacher Training in 2013, learned how to cook from his Grandmother, and believes, in spite and because of it all, that many things happen because they are meant to (and vice versa).

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanwalker89/