Sunday, February 24, 2013

What If My Purpose In Life Is Lackluster?

Over a year ago, I described how my perceptions of love have changed in the post It's Not About Personality. Before, I thought love was admiration of the other person's character and enjoying the other person's personality. Yet, my love of Owen does not stem from jaw-dropping admiration so much as from a deep trust and appreciation of our partnership. In other words my love for Owen isn't just about Owen; it's about Owen AND it's about me. Our love is multi-faceted. Not only do I like Owen and think that he's pretty dang smart, I also like how I feel when I'm with him, how well we work together on projects, and how each of us has found inspiration in each other strong enough to change the course of our lives.

Though I still struggle with purpose. Yesterday I received the news that I will not be a poetry MFA student in the fall. In the folds of my mind it's a small jump from rejection letter to fear that I will not enjoy my purpose in life. As many others wonder if they even have a purpose in life, my struggle is slightly different, but really pretty much the same. I fear that God does have a defined purpose for me, but that I will find it lackluster. What if my purpose does not include writing? What if it doesn't involve my intellect at all? What if it isn't community oriented? What if it doesn't involve children?

"Life is short but it is wide--
it is so magical-- filled with mystery and wonder.
Butterflies are special to me.
Their life is the examined life--
it has passion, purpose, and a destiny."
Joan D'Arcy qtd. in Joyce Tenneson's Wise Women 
In high school and early college I had similar fears about my future husband. What if I found him boring? What if he didn't want to travel? What if he wasn't funny? Now I know the reality of Owen. Owen is not boring and does want to travel, and even though he wasn't exactly funny when we got together I do love him, and even like him.  

Perhaps my approach to purpose has been similar to my previous approach to love? Maybe I'm thinking of it too much in terms of a life I would admire: part time writing professor, writer, mom, gardener, world traveler.  I would be thrilled if my purpose in life involved achieving high credentials in the profession of writing, learning extensively of the world around me, raising children and teaching others how to express themselves better through writing. And maybe that is my purpose! Or maybe it's not. Or maybe parts of it are, but other parts of it are just societally driven desires for achievement in my life. 

Maybe no matter what my purpose is once I live it and experience it, I'll find something much deeper than admiration or achievement. As the keynote speaker at the 2011 St. Olaf graduation suggested, perhaps I'll find significance.

Oh, and about that Owen not being funny thing-- he's learned. Tonight as he grilled us some flank steak, he danced around the kitchen doing disco moves to Love Machine. Oh yes. His continued desire to make me just a little bit happier in whatever ways he can has won my jaw-dropping admiration. 

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