We all have a purpose, a reason for being here. Something totally unique to us that defines who we are. Mine is writing and teaching. I write poetry, prose and non-fiction. My teaching is sometimes formal classroom teaching, and other times it's mentoring/tutoring. Either way, my purpose is to help others see the flame that burns bright within them even when darkness looms.
Everything we do should flow from our purpose. In theory, I should be hunched over my computer as the hours go by, fingers banging away at the keyboard and caffeine at the ready. In reality, I'm not. What ails me, you might ask? Complete lack of motivation.
For some reason, right now I don't feel very purpose-driven. I kind of just want to curl up in a ball under the covers, pet my cats and sip hot cocoa as I listen to guitar all day. The problem is, I don't even have any cats.
Sometimes we can get caught up in the fantasy or illusion of what it means to live out our purpose. It seems new and exciting, adventurous, fantastical, or even noble. So, what to do when we get stuck, or when that feeling of dread creeps in at the thought of returning to "that thing"? When we don't feel our purpose, even when we know it?
Yesterday one of my mentors reminded me of "intentional abandonment." It's a term used in property law and it means to intentionally give up or relinquish some right over something. On the day to day, it means leaving behind all the stuff that crowds out what we're called to do. It's finding time each and every day to do what matters most, even when it feels like pulling teeth (that's where discipline comes in). It means identifying what matters most in our calling and doing it first, because the enemy of the best is the good. For example upon self-reflection, I realized I've been spending countless hours training for my first half marathon (yay!). But somewhere along the way I had sacrificed my research and writing to get there (boo).
I wanted the excitement of the "next fix." I love running. I also love writing, but I'm not a place where I want to be right now: in the mundane. To be honest there's not much excitement in the mundane, the monotony, the everyday pressing into our calling. But, as I'm starting to see, there is beauty in the misery. It's in those dreadfully early, solitary hours when we learn how to balance contentment and persistence. We sit, ponder, and wait. We put it on the page, even when it's not perfect, because poor exercise is still better than no exercise. Time is one resource we can never get back, so we have to own it and not let it own us. In the words of my mentor, be wary of trading what matters most for anything.
I realize there are tons of resources for writers. How to write your first novel, knowing your audience, resources for marketing, finding a publisher, etc. But most of the learning happens between the lines. Through mistakes, failures, uncertainties and other misgivings. This is a part of the journey. There is no victory if there is nothing to fight for.