This winter I was feeling like my writing in the morning was frivolous. It was a morning ritual that I had developed after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way at Work more than six years ago: sit, drink my coffee, write. Dave had started to get up early and go to the gym every day; this seemed much more productive. I was questioning my writing habit: What was I producing? What was the point? Is this the best use of my time?
I started to skip writing, crawl out of bed, throw on my gym clothes and Canadian Goose Parka and stumble over to the gym. I felt great while I was at the gym and I was gaining confidence in myself for holding my commitment but after a few weeks I began to notice that I was feeling a little “off”. I was sure this was just an excuse to not go to the gym and I ignored it.
When I told this story to my massage therapist Alfie** (I swear he also doubles as my psychotherapist), he paused and asked me: Have you ever heard of the TV show the Dog Whisperer? The host often helps owners recognize that their dogs are misbehaving because they are not fulfilling their purpose. If they are shepherds, they need to shepherd. Maybe writing is like that for you.
I quickly got over being the dog in this analogy because Alfie made a great point. We all have something that we were meant to do that is somehow programmed in. The key is to recognize it and stick to it.
Now I am back to writing every weekday and feeling grounded (and feeling guilty about not going to the gym, but that’s okay). Alfie’s story led me to realize it actually didn’t matter whether my writing produced something concrete, what it was producing was a clear, contented mind. What could be a more important productive outcome?
What’s programmed in for you? What keeps you grounded?
* I have been watching Parks and Recreation and “literally” keeps popping into my phrasing. I seem to be channelling ChrisTraeger.
4 thoughts on “Does following our purpose help to ground us?”
Oh! That’s great. I think you are going to get a lot out of the artist’s way. It changed my view and perception of work and life in a profound way. And the actions that Julia suggests are easy to undertake and create a noticeable difference. Let me know how it goes!
The wonders of the blogging world … I love it! I know that I just discovered your blog yesterday, but this article, your writing style, and your mention of The Artist’s Way piqued by interest further. A lunchtime visit to my local Barnes and Noble was on the schedule for today. After reading the first two chapters, I am now the proud owner of Julia Cameron’s book. The ironic thing is that I think I picked up the book several years ago, but it found its way back to the shelf before I left the store. I guess I wasn’t ready at the time, but I am now. I am excited, frightened, apprehensive, and giddy (all at the same time) about starting this process. Thank you for exposing me to something old that is now something new 😉
I was so touched by your comment! As a newbie to the blogging world I am overwhelmed by the potential for connections. I am so pleased that you found my post today and that it affected you. I just checked out your blog and there is so much wonderful material there. I am so glad that you found your passion in writing, that you are sharing it and that you are tapping into the rich resources of it. Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback Dave.
This explains so much 🙂 I recently started my own blog and the time that I am spending formulating my thoughts and writing is so, well, therapeutic. It just feels like the right thing to be doing even though not a single soul may ever read what I write. The time in between days that I write just seems distracting, like I am in a fog. Of course, I think we all write with the hope of touching someone else’s life and perhaps helping them see things from a different perspective. But, the bottom line, as you so eloquently state is that we come away with a clear and contented mind when we are doing something that we are passionate about. That leads to so many more positive forces in our lives and the other lives we touch that it is definitely a supremely productive outcome. Thanks for the brilliant insight!