Purpose is a curse

Purpose, courtesy of Merriam Webster:
1) the reason why something is done or used
2) the aim or intention of something
3) the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something
4) the aim or goal of a person: what a person is trying to do, become, etc.

People should always seek purpose, right? Life should have meaning. (There’s a book or twelve on the topic. Man’s Search for Meaning and so on) Self-help guides entreat us to nurture a sense of direction and focus, keep our eyes on the prize, be goal-oriented, commit to this and that and the other. It’s a given. Purpose Is Good.


Children play without purpose. We assign meaning, observing them. Psychologists and sociologists divine purpose, matching actions to consequences of development. Yet if you ask a little one, “Why are you playing?” the answer more often than not will be, “Because it’s fun!” Imagination, fun, spontaneity — these are the wellsprings of creative thought, and I have to wonder, can Purpose choke off that vital flow of ideas?

The answer for me is: yes. When I think about the significance of anything I’m creating, then my forward progress abruptly halts. When I’m grounded and focused, concentrating and committed to Working, or to Creating, or even to Ideas, then I can’t get caught up in flights of fancy. That’s a big problem, since I want to turn dream to drama.  Productivity and creativity must work hand in hand, or trot in the same harness, or march in step, for me to bring my imagination into the world of words and pixels.

Getting caught up in the day-to-day of the here and now is easy. Life falls into patterns of purpose that fill the mind but choke off the spirit.  Laundry one day, shop the next, buy groceries. write a promotion ad, clean the scary bathroom, edit older material, empty the recycling, write an essay, cook meals,  run the dishes….when I look up, it’s Friday again, and I still haven’t finished a scene I’ve been struggling to complete for two weeks.

It isn’t procrastination, as such. I don’t have “writer’s block.” Words are flowing, and I have tangible results to share. They just aren’t the ones I want, because I’ve been focusing on all kinds of goals, thinking about Getting Things Done, not getting to the fun.

Nothing new gets created until I give myself the priceless gift of free time, unstructured and uncommitted to any purpose, and let myself play.

art from: http://pixabay.com/en/soap-bubbles-soap-bubbles-child-154127/