I learned something about my life through a favorite author, David McCullough.

McCullough, two time winning Pulitzer Prize winner, died last year. Generally, I can’t get through biographies, but his books don’t read like biographies.

I learned that in his youth, McCullough aspired to paint portraits. In his 20s, he thought he would write plays. It was on a visit to the National Archives that he, in his words, “discovered my vocation.” 

It appears that painting and historical research are very different. But are they? Perhaps what makes McCullough so gifted is that he approaches history like a painter of a figure, their character as developing over a plot.

This is very often how I think vocation works. What intrigued us in our childhood often shows back up as we narrow in on our life’s calling. Author John McPhee said that of his 30+ books, 90% of them were about topics that interested him before he was 18.

There are clues about what we’ll do in the future in our past. 

One of the best ways to discover your future, therefore, may be to start by looking in the rear view mirror.

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