I’m a sucker for a catchy headline (also known as click bait, which, funnily enough, I’m terrible at writing), and the other day I saw one that said something like this: it is why you are here.
Well, I knew immediately what the “it” was, and you probably do, too. Your life purpose, of course. Headlines like this are a dime a dozen these days because everybody wants to life their life purpose. Right?
Well, yeah. Duh.
I fear I’ve gotten so inured to the idea of life purpose that I rarely even notice anything to do with it any more. Except that recently, in a moment of weakness, I got sucked into the black vortex of my Facebook timeline and noticed an impassioned post. It was about how all that life purpose crap is hooey and how being an ordinary person without one was just fine.
I’ll be honest, I bristled at this post. Because besides a slight tendency to roll my eyes at the most diligent purveyors of the life purpose view, I do believe in it. Maybe because, at heart, finding your life purpose is about finding and making meaning in our lives. And I believe fervently in that.
Finding meaning is what writing does for me.
Once, many years ago, my sister and I went to a talk by the late Madeleine L’Engle (author, of course, of one of the best books ever, A Wrinkle in Time). When the talk was over, my sister turned to me and said, “She makes me want to be a writer.”
And that was because L’Engle talked about writing with a capital W, as a calling, as a purpose, as a thing that gives life meaning beyond worrying about publishing stats or finding an agent or your latest word count.
The author of the anti-life purpose Facebook post wrote about how ordinary life was enough—and we could find joy in the every day things and be content. But that is precisely what my writing does for me—makes me love all the little things I write about in my journal or stories, makes me appreciate the life I have. Makes me find joy.
And if that is not the purpose of life then I don’t know what is.