Vocational Arousal

In the early 1990’s, whilst toiling in the London media scene I was approached by and attended an interview at Dennis Publishing.

My interviewer was none other than the man himself, Felix Dennis; a frankly amusing and amazing man, character of legend and many a magazine myth. He had occasion to recruit a team for a new venture; the launch of the title ‘Stuff’.

A bi-monthly men’s magazine about, well, stuff:

Stuff is the world’s best-selling gadget magazine, and Stuff.tv is the online version of that magazine (if that makes any sense). It’s where you can find tech news that’s wry but not dry, the world’s most trusted gadget tests and exclusive previews of the latest phones, computers, wearables, tablets, games, apps, TVs, hi-fi, headphones, cameras, consoles, and media players, as well as insights into the technology that’s changing your future.

It’s not all gadgets…that’s not all – cars make us quiver and robots rock our world. We’re seduced by sport and tickled by toys. We worship watches, marvel at music and fawn over films, fashion and furniture. OK, we hardly ever do furniture. And thank goodness for that, eh?’ 


Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Stuff it seemed to me that was really rarely needed. Though the title was acquired by Haymarket publishing in 1999 and still exists to this day so what would I know…

Needless to say I declined the job offer but left with a kind of a pal, which in turn saw me in 2006 with a signed copy of Felix’s tome ‘How to get Rich’ .

Yeah, yeah, get to the point, I know.

The point being that I still have the book, and I know that it is a signed copy, but I have never witnessed the signature as I have never actually opened the book……

The fact that a magazine about stuff I could see no point of launched by a man whose book I possess but did not buy and have never read says way more about me than anything else I totally concede.

However, by the time the book came in to my possession I had long since left London and Media behind me to return to paint, due in no small part to the fact that working in an industry so wholly unconnected to my sense of self made me unhappy to the point of heaving……

…..and therein we have it. Finally. the point of this month’s blog.

The pursuit of stuff nobody needs can make us sick.

The pursuit of things that resonate with our-selfs makes us well.

The provocative term, vocational arousal, came by way of the visionary thinker Barbara Marx Hubbard.

Vocational arousal describes an internal yearning or calling to our highest work; to our specific duty while on Earth.  While this calling used to be experienced by the few, possibly those in spiritual vocations, artists, healers, nurses, physicians, and teachers in particular, this arousal is being expressed more and more now by people not yet sure of where their joy lies; because they have never had occasion to ask…

When you love your work, you spend your days in a heightened state of arousal Marx Hubbard tells us. Good work is sexy, Pretty cool. What’s not to love?

The world has been filled with people who have unwittingly bought into the system. Namely to do as you are told, go to school, get the required education, get a good job and work for the machine – until retirement and ultimately death. Increasingly,  though, students are finding that following this path does not lead to a job at all, never mind a good one. Mere qualifications are not enough, educational establishments want life experience, individuality and point of difference. Vocation.

Not job seekers

But what has a job been? And who on earth would want one long term? A job has no vitality. It is a way to fill your day while you are planning what you really want to do. And often in the planning you become numb, totally swallowed by the machine. And you forget who you are. And what role you have to play that makes your eyes sparkle and your heart sing. So we have cities filled with zombies. The most aroused they get is through very ordinary sex, too much social media, or crap TV.

Buckminster Fuller, the American architect, writer, inventor and theorist long ago did the ‘math’ and concluded that it is cheaper to pay people to stay at home, to not commute, to not produce stuff that adds no real value but consumes earth energy. They then might have a chance to discover where they are vocationally aroused. Then we could honour people for doing what was spontaneously arousing within them and that added value to the whole, collective, existence.

We would honour those who love to do the caring roles that our current society regards as worthless; taking care of children, the elderly and the physically challenged. We would not say that they are less valuable than the ‘worker’ who gets paid silly money for trading bits on a screen. We would honour men who wanted to be stay at home fathers, and women who wanted to be stay at home mums. We would celebrate the artists and artisans, music makers, poets and musers. We would measure value by the joy in their eyes, the weight of hell lifted from the collective consciousness and the contribution they make to the joy and well-being of all.

Vocational arousal is the real work of life. It is the twinkle. The divine spark.

As Buckminster said:

‘We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living’.


We need far less Stuff than we have led ourselves to believe.

‘Enough is as good as a feast……’ now was that Thomas Mallory or Mary Poppins? You decide as I am currently vocationally aroused by this:

Just this: