She watched the way the paper husks of an onion fell on a table, and examined the rings of dirt that onion mites had left in parallel rows on the glossy wet inside. Everything said something, and it wasn't her job to consider the merit or even the meaning of the message: just to witness the fact of the message.
~ Gregory Maguire, from Wicked
It's cold out there today, snow on the ground and temps dropping as we lose daylight. This is the time of year when a lot of us make lists and ponder goals and wonder what we most want in the new year. Of course, we could do that any old time, but winter is the best. One of the things I like about the wondering part is that it takes me out of the cold and dark into my imagination.
I've been wondering lately about the difference between meaning and purpose in life. Purpose is, I think, what gets me out of bed in the morning. In the past it's been mothering duties or getting to school or getting to work. Meaning sometimes overlaps purpose: Purpose could get me out of bed to do something that has meaning. Right?
When I was a mother of toddlers and again when I was working in a cube, I thought that if I only had time, I could do something meaningful (and yes, raising children has meaning in the long run, but we rarely attach meaning to all the menial labor involved in raising kids - when was the last time you woke and thought with delight, "Oh boy! It's time to get up and take the poopy diaper off the baby!")
When I left the cube world, I had time, lots of it, and I always thought I would write more: stories, that novel, memoir, essays. Uh-huh. For me, writing is a meaningful activity, but I haven't yet figured out how to propel myself out of bed with purpose.
I want what Sharon O'Brien has:
Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.
How's that for a New Year's Resolution: Know what I'm going to say.