In October, Writer Emily Wheat reflections on how the purpose and meaning of our daily activities mirror the purpose and meaning of our greater lives. Emily challenges me to awaken my creative and engaging self by requesting that I spend time walking in nature, connecting with others through the (non digital) postal service and by making a new creation daily. Wild Card Doug Sadler asks me to reflect on the actors tools of distilling purpose through every action. He asks me to define my in the moment and super objective while reminding me to reach out, ask and connect with the networks that can provide. Below are images of the many experiences and objects created this month. Read the full Chapter five below and start reading here for my written responses.
Purpose and Meaning
I am constantly driven to find meaning and purpose in each step I take on this path called life. Many of the choices I have made revolve around the work that I do and building a career. I have recently followed a new life path, one influenced by work, but driven by the desire to live a deeply fulfilling, well-rounded life. I have finally allowed my need to live a more balanced life outweigh my desire to continue on a certain career path.
Beth, you too spend a great deal of time contemplating your choices and the way they direct your life’s path, always letting your intuition be your guide. I always know that when I call you to discuss a change that I need to make you will be encouraging, no matter how strange and scary it might seem. I can hear you now, “Wheatie, trust yourself. You already know what the right decision is.” Your path has also been somewhat directed by the work that you do. I am interested to see how this year of letting other people direct your life will impact the way that you make decisions in your future.
When considering my own purpose I find that much of my life is centered around my interactions with other people. As a teacher I am constantly fueled by what I learn from the students I work with as well as challenging them to think and create in new ways. I also choose to surround myself with a community of people that challenge me and help me grow. I think that our initial bond was created through our similar desire to learn from the people around us. Interacting with people on such a deep level pushes us to grow but can also hinder us if not balanced with time alone to reflect on knowledge gained.
The challenges I purpose for this month are about finding balance.
Part 1: A Walk in the Woods
I want you to start off this month by going on a hike. It can be as long as you desire but you must be alone and in the woods. The combination of the physical act of moving, spending time alone and being surrounded by the beauty of nature always helps me clear my head and focus my energy.
Let your brain clear out any issues that might be blocking your ability to bask in the experiences and interactions that have come out of the past couple months and consider what you have learned/what you have been reminded of while participating in the challenges of the Living Chapters. How has this knowledge impacted your sense or purpose and meaning?
Part 2: A Treasure a Day
The second part of my challenge for you this month, BB, is to create! I want you to spend this month using your creative energies to make something new every day. I also want you to share those creations with the people in your life that have impacted your sense purpose.
Here are the guidelines:
1. Make something every day.
This something can be as large or as small as you desire. I know that you may or may not have all the usual items that would be at your disposal in other living situations aka your basement in Remington, so I am sending you a package of goods that might help you through this challenge. Also, remember to use your master skills in the art of collecting to find items that may help your creative process.
2. Send or deliver the creations that you have made to people who have or continue to make an impact on your life.
You do not have to send/deliver an item every day and you may send/deliver more than one item to the same person if you choose, but you must be intentional in your decisions during this part of the process. Let your intention be fueled by your intuition, letting yourself naturally come to conclusions about who must receive which items and when.
I loved your quote from last month’s chapter… “Instead of figuring out a direct plan for my future, what I want to do is hone the skills that will help me arrive at it organically.” Use this practice in following your intuition through the creative process to fuel your ability to listen to your intuition in the next phases of your life.
3. Have fun!
Let this challenge be joyous and not tedious. If you aren’t feeling the project you are working on one day ditch it and start a new one. It will be more enjoyable if you are listening to yourself, especially if you are feeling that it is time for a break or to switch directions.
Note: This challenge does not include October 31st. That day is reserved for tricks and treats.
It’s a sunny October day in New York city – delightful, peaceful, remarkably warm … but Beth Barbush is in my brain! She’s filling the space with a swirl of ideas, an inspiring sense of possibility and idealism, frenetic, infectious creativity and a kooky sense of humor. But why is she in my head, what is her purpose, and by extension, what is mine? Man, October seemed so far away when I signed up for this!
Okay, purpose and meaning … big ideas, big questions … all Barbush. Seeking safety in words, I pull out the dictionary (an actual paper one):
Ah, ‘the reason for which something is done or made’! I was struck by the elegance and simplicity of the chapter Emily Wheat wrote for Beth this month, including as it did contemplation (a walk in the woods), joy (treasure a day) and a core focus on creativity and giving (create something every day). But two weeks in, I think some deeper exploration of the ‘the reason for which something is done or made’ is in order. Not to justify or question the making or the giving, but to open a door to understanding the purpose behind making, giving and inspiring. And perhaps a touch of asking and receiving is in order too.
At the risk of annoying with a detour, let me share just a bit about what I’ve learned, first as an actor and later as a writer about the power that comes from distilling purpose to a sentence. (And yes, for those wishing I’d just get to the list of assignments already, this is one of them). In acting there is the objective (what I want now, moment to moment) and the super-objective (what I want in life / my purpose). In writing, these same ideas are applied to character creation and the purpose and meaning of the story as a whole, often as premise and theme. In story, the more active, idealistic and potentially unachievable the super-objective of a character, the more intensely the character will come alive and the more magnetic witnessing their seeking becomes – we love dreamers and strivers after all. And, Beth, since you are a dreamer and striver and have cast yourself – literally as The Protaganist – and ‘hired’ (well, you know) writers to write your life script, I want you to engage with the tools and techniques of character and drama to define your purpose. And I’m including an exercise to build asking and receiving to your repertoire in addition to giving. Without further adieu, here’s the wildcard:
1) Define your purpose (in the moment objective) in giving the gifts you make this month to the people you give them to. A sentence or better, a word or two. Include it with each gift. These can be fun, individual, whimsical.
2) Define your life purpose (life goal / super-objective). Start with a paragraph, get it down to a sentence and ultimately to a few words that ring true … once you’ve arrived consider sharing it to reinforce it, give it power, perhaps as a signature on gifts you give this month, perhaps in other ways …
3) Ask and receive – It’s easy for artists and creatives to avoid asking for or receiving the help and support they need, whether financial or otherwise. So, as you focus your life purpose, understand that to live up to that possibility you need and deserve support and to get it you must ask for it. So, this month step out of your comfort zone and ask at least one person or entity for assistance / a gift to forward your purpose. It can be in any life direction – career, personal, whatever, but think big – this should not be small and it should be scary.
So, there you have it Beth. I think I’m within the bounds of wild card to include all this, but if not, well, call the referee, fire me, cancel my check etc. Oh and when you do #3, I will buy you a beer so you can tell me how and where you’re reaching out and up …