What is a life of meaning and purpose? I didn’t think so hard about such questions when I was young. I had a plan for my life since I was four years old, and I pretty much stuck to it. But almost half a century later, I look both forward and backward and wonder about the purpose of my life now.
It was easy to know even five years ago – I was a wife, a mother, and a high school teacher. I’ve been a wife for over 26 years and I still see a great part of my purpose to be walking through life’s valleys and peaks with my husband. But what about the mother and teacher? I still see Jillian as my baby, my heart, my angelfish, but she is a grown woman. And I haven’t been a teacher for four years now.
My Traveling Socks would say that I my most recent purpose was to experience the greater world – the other.
But I’m talking about now.
I’m sitting here with my laptop writing this blog post. Is writing my purpose? And if so, is it meaningful?
Fortunately, I was able to attend a workshop in New Orleans sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Donna Jo Napoli, author of dozens of young audience novels, conducted a workshop on character and voice – and I greatly appreciated a professional’s advice on the writing process. It’s hard to pinpoint how I write. I just do it without thinking, and as a speaker for schools and libraries, I have been forced to evaluate my process. Donna Jo helped me tremendously in this regard.
She was a lovely, witty, funny woman, giving just the right dose of “’at-a-girl” and “get to work.” Ah, but she offered so much more than ideas on writing – she validated my existence as a writer. Even with a published novel under my belt, I still doubt my credentials as a writer, but here was a bona fide writer reading my latest draft, telling me that she cared about my character, that she wanted to read more, and that “there’s a lot of good stuff in there.” Wow. I was astounded.
Is mine a life of meaning and purpose? I still hadn’t figured that out yet, in spite of recent revelations. Then today I read a tweet by New Orleans writer and anchorwoman Sally-Ann Roberts. It said, “You are like a tree planted by the water. Your leaf shall never wither and you will prosper in all you do. Psalm 1:3.”
Sometimes all it takes is someone else’s words to give meaning to our life. That’s why I’m a writer.