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South Mountain Journal by John Canan, Photographer, Journalist

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Making Adjustments - An Essay on Vocation

Making Adjustments - An Essay on Vocation

Part One of Two


What is the value of craft within a vocation?  What is over-arching value to a region of diverse and multigenerational vocations that involve more than training in their effectiveness?   For instance, South Mountain is constructed of angled sedimentary, folded carbonate rock, and thrust faulted crust that form the complex layers of the mountain.  Likewise the web of complex relationships and interactions of the people in a region construct an ecology of experience. It is the overall combination of all the people and what they do that result in what one experiences within a locale (either as residents or as the visitors).   

Vocation and how the bill of goods that get promoted which is the training required to perform a particular vocation, are also the namable elements that a person or institution can charge for providing knowledge in.  What gets taught is based on the quantifiable aspects of a job or a professional service.  The teachable aspects of a course on insurance sales, will include laws, policy, ethics, jargon, and examples of applying varying combinations of these.  Following the course(s) is an exam and the results of which indicate if the person is or is not working the trade of an insurance sales person.  


What is missing is the human being, the person inside of the role, the person who is or will be wielding the knowledge, in part with others, to create the particular outcome for which they trained.  Consider this,  you want a fantastic tasting and beautiful cake.  A grocery store sells the ingredients to make a cake from scratch, those ingredients, no matter the quality, are not the cake itself.  A cake and how it fulfills its intended role is determined by how the maker uses the ingredients, blended with timing, and the use of the heat from the oven.  It is the synchronized actions of the maker with the ingredients that results in the cake.  


Skills that determine the difference, the real difference between a slice of cake that one consumes in joy and the slice that no-one wants to eat beyond the first taste cannot are not taught in a class.  These skills are not necessarily learned on the job either.  Every skilled vocation has its form of mascot or local hero; their Michael Jordan if you will.  Many people graduate from med school and mechanic school.  Few of these graduates will understand the craft of their skills.  This post explores the unseen aspect of a vocation or advocation and looks under the hood of experience into the purpose that one potentially fulfills when they hone both skill and craft while tempered by gratitude and the genuine care of others.  

Sometimes those working alongside or around one are skilled at the what and the how of their role so-much-so that others may not even realize the support that is imparted from the coworker that literally enables one to do what one does and at the level that one does it.  An executive assistant, for instance,  may never be applauded or featured in the annual report.  However, without this person’s consistent excellence,  attention to detail, focusing the attention of their employer on those details perhaps many things could have gone awry for the executive who right now accepts the board’s applause. 

 Brent Smith, examining an automotive part in Mercersburg, PA

Brent Smith, examining an automotive part in Mercersburg, PA

Every place has its cast of characters and like the main actor on a stage that wins an award, this is so often only possible through the way the supporting actors and set crew approaches their particular roles and how they execute their roles.  Quality service and a job well done can and often do go unseen.  Perhaps as a culture, we are taught where and how to look.  The quality of an item or service can be taken-for-granted when things are going, working, or running well. 

So, while this post leads up to the next post in the Clockwork Series, and is about an auto mechanic and small business owner in Franklin County, PA the post is equally about human relationship, the unseen aspect that one brings to whatever it is that they do.  This is part of the value that the person and integrates through the application of their particular imprint.    

Lastly, I hope that people reading this will notice and savor the craft of someone they know and have interactions with.  Noting the clean floor, or the bank shot, or delicious food and then going deeper,  Seeing within oneself that aspects of how this person or these people put all of the pieces together to create the outcome that you experienced.  Like the cake previously mentioned, with its varied ingredients, time, and heat, every task, service, and human interaction has the mark of its maker embedded within it.  What is it about how they perform whatever it is they do, what is it about this that stands out to you?  Who else does this work touch?

Artful Living - Bladesmith Erin Aylor Enfolds Life Lessons Into Steel

Artful Living - Bladesmith Erin Aylor Enfolds Life Lessons Into Steel