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I recently had a revelation that our purpose in life is to create.
At a basic, biological level we are driven to create life – i.e. children. But even as we evolve and it gets more complicated, that drive to create something is much stronger than many people give credit.
For those of you who do spend time creating – be it paintings, or technology architecture solutions, or coaching – when do you feel most fulfilled? When do you most feel like you are contributing to life? For me it is when I put a magnificent idea into action, or when I step back and look at a lovely drawing I created. Those creative products make me feel like my unique being contributed something to life in a big picture way. Art, process changes, powerful words, new life, new products – these creative outputs live on without their creator and are the summary of someone’s purpose.
There is a certain satisfaction in getting a job done. There is a measure of happiness that comes with enjoying a vacation. There is certainly a feeling of gratification after a great conversation, or movie. And winning an important sports match will have you laughing and celebrating for hours. But making something that will exist independently of you and is unique to your personality truly connects to your purpose – and you can feel it.
As someone who worked in computers in the corporate world for years – I can recall the times that I felt like I was using my gifts to create something (and that was the minority of the time). Those times did indeed fuel my fire for long periods of time.
Now that I own my business and have ‘come out’ as an artist – I spend much more time being creative, and I can feel it. I actually feel the urge to exercise that muscle now if I have been doing straight forward activities for too long.
I have 3 kids – so it is easy for me to say that my main purpose in this lifetime is be a great parent. But this creative purpose is much harder to put words on – but it is so important. You don’t need to be able to draw to be creative – you just need to be open to the massive array of thoughts that bubble up in your brain. And honour them!
Maybe you feel an urge to write poetry once in a while? Take a secret notebook and write. As you become more comfortable in your words, you may share it one day. If you are lucky enough to encounter people who resonate with your words, you will feel a joy almost as lovely as becoming a parent. Do you always have ideas on how to do something better – at work or in the world? Pick one idea per year to put out there. Investigate it, see what it would take to implement, look for partners. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment that would come with a successful implementation.
I will go a step further – it is this power of creativity that is the apex of evolution and has made humans the dominant species. Using a round rock as a wheel or using fire to cook food wasn’t learned or instinct – it was creativity. As long we stay with what we already know everyday, all day, we stop evolving. And as soon as we push our own envelope, even a little bit, we start to feel our place in this life. The more you explore your creative skills, the more energy you put towards it, the more you evolve personally, and become more connected to yourself and the planet.
There is one caveat to all this. Creative thinking is only step one. As a creative infant – it will be a wonderful masterpiece, but once you have mastered thinking, it is no longer really being creative and it won’t bring you much joy. You need put it into some kind of action, some kind of commitment, you need to get it out there. Any career graphic artist will tell you that designing within the same box over and over again stops feeling creative – even if they still produce amazing work. Your creative muscle is strongest on the edge of your comfort zone.
Go ahead – learn the meaning of life. It is within you.
This past weekend I was camping with the family and friends at a fishing derby at Knouff Lake resort. The low-lights of the weekend are pretty humorous when you string them together.
Thursday night before we leave – my youngest, 1 year old River – pukes in his crib at bedtime. I had just finished washing and putting away all the laundry – 5 loads I think, so I strip his bed and start a new pile – I think he developing a milk allergy. Friday we arrive at the lake, River doesn’t sleep that well that night – he wakes up at least 10 times.
My hubby gets up to go fishing at 6am on Saturday, and wakes him up when drives away. River hears the truck turn on and drive away and bolts awake crying ‘daddy, daddy…’. River’s nap time rolls around, and I sleep too. My two other kids are off playing or fishing with dad, I am too tired to care. Three hours later the tent trailer is quite stinky, River had a lovely nap but woke to FILL his diaper and actually spray sh*t up his back. We are camping! Do I try to bath him with wipes? Where do I even start with damage control?? I notice he hasn’t actually gotten any sh*t on his bedding, he must of been sitting when he performed the deed and his clothes seem to be the only casualty. I pick him up by the armpits and put him outside – we then walk to the shower house 100 metres away, hoping noone will notice he is covered in sh*t.
Saturday culminates with a lovely steak dinner with the fishing derby crowd. However, between shower time and dinner time I change River’s diaper 4-6 times – he has some nasty stomach issues going on (use your imagination). After dinner I feel horrendous – 2 hours later, I puke in the bushes and promptly go to sleep. It is 9:30pm, my kids are all in bed, but still awake – I don’t care, I assume they fall asleep eventually.
Sunday is pack up day. My 4 year old is exhausted from the weekend and spends the entire morning throwing temper tantrums. I am pretty sure she wakes up the entire hungover campground with her wails – I wish some cranky person would stick their head out of their tent and yell at her to shut up. Needless to say, noone does and I continue to try to convince her to relax and be quiet. As we are packing the vehicles to go home she needs to go pee and claims she can do it by herself (squatting in the bushes that is – she can use a toilet no problem) – so I let her. She pees all over her clothes.
On the way home all 3 kids have lovely long naps – hopefully dinner will be uneventful as a result. We are meeting with friend for a greek buffet. All goes well, until we leave. 30 feet out of their driveway River pukes again – rivers of curdled milk and grapes spew out of his mouth. The carseat is covered, River is covered and everything smells like feta cheese. My oldest now feels nauseous and we have to go back to host’s house to ask for help – trying to clean River and the carseat enough to transport everyone home.
My weekend = puke, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, puke, pee, puke. No wonder I have to do so much laundry.
The funny thing is – I actually felt like I had a great weekend.
Before I marveled at the source of my mountain of laundry, I was quite content. I got to hangout with some lovely friends. My kids had a fantastic time playing – they were exhausted from socializing and exploring. Dinner was delicious. I won and ice cream maker and 11 litres of free ice cream (yes eleven litres!). I got lots of sleep. My dog was relaxed. My better half managed to catch a fish. The weather cooperated and the tent trailer was warm at night.
My deep down feeling was one of a good time – after considering all the bodily fluids I had to contend with – I surprised myself. It is all about attitude 🙂
I have had the same doctor for 15 years. In that time he has take 2 extended leaves to volunteer overseas (I happened to give birth in both those time frames!). Once he spent a year in Africa, he brought his 3 children (ages 10-15) with him to help out – what an amazing experience. The second time he went to India for 6 months to teach in a medical university.
I respect my doctor immensely for doing this. But the first thing I ask when he gets back is: how do you do it? And I am not talking about how does he manage to move his whole life to a developing country for months. How does he come back!?!?
When he works in Africa or India, the patients and doctors he works with desperately need his knowledge and experience. He is saving lives everyday. But when he returns to his cushy practice in urban Canada how can he face all the overweight, hypochondriacs that monopolize his time (and I hope I am not seen as one of them!)?
His answer surprised me. He said it is easy to go to a developing country and see pain and suffering and reach out to help. But most people, turn a blind eye to same pain and suffering in their own backyard. In Canada, it seems, most people expect someone else to take care of our societal problems.
So many people I know, including myself, do this exact thing: fund raise and volunteer in exotic developing countries and feel really good about it. But what do we do to help the homeless in our own town? How do we reach out to the neglected children in our own neighborhood? How do we contribute to our own community centres and associations?
Is this right? Shouldn’t you take care of yourself and your own before reaching out to others? Otherwise your foundation might crumble while you are looking away. My doctor’s insight had a huge impact on the way I think. I have always gravitated towards making an impact in my own backyard – I feel most comfortable when I can see the impact I have. But his comments instilled that belief even deeper, because I don’t want to take my community for granted.