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 …
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