Art by Duy Huynh

I open my eyes this morning knowing what I want to write about today.  Purpose. Considering that it has been weeks since I woke up wanted to write anything, I resolve to jump out of bed, leave everything, save the making of coffee, for later and start tapping at my keyboard.

However, before I sit and open the laptop, there is the cat to let in and feed, fans to move from bedrooms to kitchen and living room, the mouse trap in the kitchen cabinet to check (before Julia gets up) and the coffee to make with a few fleeting thoughts given to whether the papaya on the countertop is ripe.  Another few thoughts go to whether I text Cheshire before or after I write. Julia gets up and immediately turns on the tv and gets on her iPad.  She grabs a pop tart (unfrosted to ease my mother guilt) and says, good morning. I wrestle for more than a moment with the urge to engage with her and begin the enriching work of the day. Shouldn’t that be my sole purpose— To spend every waking moment purposely and actively engaged in Julia’s growth and maturity?

I hold to my original resolve. Coffee in hand, I sit in my leather chair, the one too big for both this house and the last one.  I adjust a pillow against one arm to cushion my back and swing my legs over the other arm. And begin tapping, trying to capture the running monologue that immediately proceeded this beginning.


Two lines float up and fight for a gulp of air on the sea of consciousness:

“Not all those who wander are lost”
~ JRR Tolkien, from the poem “All that is gold does not glitter” for The Lord of the Rings (although there are at least two other sources for this quote).

“Beyond this place, there be dragons!”
~A classical phrase, disputably used by ancient cartographers to imply that fantastic dangers existed beyond the boundaries of their knowledge.

I can definitely confirm the sentiments of the second. These days, I am in the place beyond what I know, beyond my comfort zone on a multitudes of levels. I wrestle with fear, depression, loneliness, not daily but often. Repeatedly I find resolve to continue exploring and for now, I find solace in the resolve. There be dragons here.

To the first, especially when I am in the place of resolve, I can add that being lost is not as awful as I’ve believed.  Always believed in the gut of my gut.  Wandering and being lost are necessary. If the caterpillar has a philosophic bent, she must, when nature compels, surrender to the vast unknown of the chrysalis.  So must I surrender to this time, with nothing more than faith in my natural impulses.

So, natural impulses and resolve and purpose. 

Muta, the cat, sits two feet from my lap.  He is sure of my purpose—abandon this laptop and give him a lap to curl up in. Some would say that to provide a lap to a cat or child is sufficient purpose. The thought brings a wan smile, not an answer and not right now.

I feel, felt, have been feeling, and have felt, a lack of some big purpose.  Lately, since last fall, I have been busy with the decisions and activity of this great move. I have been consumed by the search and activity of all it entailed, sublime to mundane, from leaving community to finding curtains. I told friends that my initial tasks in Boston were to set I set up the necessities of our life and make the transition possible for Julia. Bravely, I also told them, I was intentionally leaving what I would do here, my longer term purpose, free from definition.

All my life, I have relied heavily on purpose and by this I mean the work/way of living that I dedicated myself to.  Usually intentional and often shifting, purpose has covered a wide range, again sublime to mundane.  This relocation, a big and messy upheaval, lies somewhere between the two.  Accomplishing purpose involves tasks as well as mental exercise. Lists of tasks have kept me busy and the busy of living can mask purpose or become a convenient stand in.  There have been times I can identify during which the completion of multitudes of tasks replaced purpose. This reminds me that my spiritual advisor once relayed that my spirit guides were somewhat frustrated that I did not listen or follow their guidance. After protesting that I had no idea of what that advice was or how to listen to it, I could only surrender to my spiritual deafness and hope to hear. 

What I am aware of right now, maybe inspired by whispers of those guides, is standing on a threshold.  Yes, liminality!  Please forgive me, gentle reader, for repeating myself. Yet again. The more I think I discover afresh, the more I discover I’ve said before. I am hoping for one more step beyond what I formerly argued.

So, two more thoughts, two more repetitions.

The urge to create and find community, to do more than hang pictures and make this house livable, is surfacing more often like a penguin taking a sip of air between long dives for sustenance. Between dives into the morass of health insurance, doctor appointments and out-of-state prescriptions (a circle of hell Dante never imagined), I google the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and Meet Up Newton, and dive deep into the FUUSN (First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton) website attempting to find community for myself.  Myself apart from Julia.  I join Newton North’s PTSO and frequently check the Boston area disability related bulletin boards. Where are my people and what will I be doing with them? 

And the spiral returns to writing. Yes, I question my why of writing.  Often. I am grateful for those who read, comment and generally enjoy my ramblings, but it is not just the communication to you, dear reader. I write because I am compelled to do it.  I have produced no novel, no biography, no memoir or exploratory articles.  Still, I do it.  Not every day, not now, but often.  Only part of which I put up on this blog.  I am old enough to have observed that the act of putting words into sentences, making sense of my now, is a compulsion that I am hard wired to engage in.  It is the act and the purpose for the act. But in the present state of threshold, is there more to this purpose than this blog and my journals? And is it time to act on that more?

And I am back again to purpose.

3 thoughts on “purpose

  1. There is purpose in just being, just breathing. Being aware. I’m not sure who told me that. But it has helped on numerous occasions. You write so beautifully and to the soul, it makes me so hesitant to try and write something back. There is music in the language of your words.
    For myself, I try to live in the now, but be aware of the past and cognoscent of the future. Over the past few years, I have had a number of experiences that make me very glad to just wake up, smell the tomatos (I have a small porch & side garden), and just be glad that I am here to be able to create my little “farm”.
    For my body: physical activity: I often am at the gym for keeping the body part of “body and soul” together.

  2. As I read your blog this morning the Seattle Symphony performed Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. I thought it went very nicely with your theme😊

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