What is your safe purpose? What do I mean by this? Well, actually it came from my very wise daughter. The other day, I found myself smiling, more than I have in awhile, and I remembered days in which I felt full, and realized it is a full life, which brings happiness. At least for me. The day I found myself smiling, I felt full. And what was I doing? Laundry. Yes. Laundry.
I love laundry. I really do. In fact, and this I just realized, I could probably be happy having a job as a laundress. I think it would be extra wonderful if it were at Downton Abbey, and not some dingy place like, say a laundry mat. Yes, I see myself in the lower half of Downton, washing her Ladyship’s attire. In between the cycles of wash, rinse and dry, I read and write in my journal. I don’t have to make a living from writing because I have my living quarters there, and receive pay for doing laundry. A simple task, at least for me, which gives purpose and fulfillment, and is completley satisfying. Clothes are dirty. They are sorted. They are washed, and now clean. Folded, smelling good, and put away- and then more laundry accumulates. Does anyone relate? Or is this just me?
Does not matter- because I love doing laundry, and as I shared my love for this satisfactory task with my daughter, she says, “So laundry is your safe purpose.” Yes. By God, it is. “But,” she continues, “what is your dangerous purpose?”
I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable. ~Viola Davis
That would be writing, something other than a blog post, which is another safe purpose. Over 7 years of writing them, I have learned how to compose a blog post, and in an instant I can publish. Satisfying. But, a book? A screenplay? A children’s story? Then, not only do I have to write it, I have to edit and submit it, and seek publication, and an agent, or e-book it, which I don’t want all my books to be e-books. Arduous. Can I just do some more laundry, please?
You have a talent that none of us have. Just find out what it is and do it. It’s doing nothing that’s the enemy. -Sybil in Downton Abbey
But, I am not a laundress, except every two weeks for my family of four. And unfortunately (and fortunately), something else has been put into my heart to do. An itch, that won’t be satisfied until I do it. When I sit down to do it, it’s often excruciating. I look for exits. Something easier. What I have in me to give, even in an attempt to give, looks weak in comparison to how I feel it inside, therefore I’d rather keep it inside. Hold it. But it itches, and it won’t stop. It wants to be freed. That dangerous purpose, wants to be realized, and because it is in me, I am the only one to free it.
And then, on a walk I realize how to free it. My inspiration? A man with a mop bucket. He’s working, and I envy him. He has work to do. It is work, which gives purpose and makes life full. No matter how long a process, to complete, or short. No matter how internal the work is, or external. It’s work, and I have lots of it to do. Laundry, and writing and who knows what else. To work satisfies the itch. To not work, as Sybil so suggests, is the enemy. It simply is, just time to move into that dangerous purpose, and work.
To get me started, I have a tip that might work for you too, and it begins with a question- could it be, the impulses I receive in a day, are clues about the work that is to be done for that day? If so, it is time I not just listen and take notes about those impulses- it is time I act upon them, and see them into completion. ***Beyond this, it is time to put the fantasy away- the image I have of me as said writer, writing, happily and consistently as a livelihood. The more I work, the fantasy becomes weak in comparison because it cannot not offer what is truly at the heart of wanting to be that writer- which is to help. To share honestly, and as one commenter said, to do this, and I quote her: “You articulated many thoughts I wasn’t even aware I was thinking.” This is why I dare to move into that dangerous purpose.
***These last few sentences were added after the “rejection” of this piece. Maybe with them, it would have hit that “sweet spot” they look for that combines spirituality and creativity, and it could have been published. The timing of the rejection was ironic, but of course perfect. I was just finishing up yesterday’s post about finding my voice, which I think does hit that spot, when I saw the email come through, and I immediately became anxious, but did not allow myself to read it until I accomplished the post, and shared it. I needed a victory, because somehow I might have known I was getting the old, thanks for your submission, but I am afraid….song and dance. I was not as elegant and strong as I thought I might be. First, my heart races. I am mad. I want to vent. I am angry. Bitter. Want to lash out and defend myself- what do you mean- me not writing spiritually.? I send my husband a text. I cry. This is all in 5 minutes or less of time. I turn off Pandora. My head is down and I ask my question from the last couple days: what can I embrace now? It turns out I am embracing this post, and the last words, the editor said to me: “That this piece didn’t come together for me is neither here nor there. Keep going.”
He’s right it is neither here nor there. I will keep going. Unfortunately, and fortunately I have to. #theartist’slife.
The Soul Reporter