I was approached with a question this weekend I have asked myself countless times. “What is the purpose behind writing? My book isn’t going to change the world or contributing to society. It’s only a story…” As I sat up worrying about my daughter for the tenth night in a row, I pondered the validity of that statement.
I thought about my childhood—sixteen solitary years where friendships were sporadic and never lasted. The world I lived in was tainted in alcoholism—a reality where everyone was quick to point a finger, but unwilling to own their responsibilities. I felt like I didn’t matter—just another burden on a heavy situation. By the time I was eight, I decided this existence was too much to bear. My only escape was the stories I could lose myself in. Books were my safe haven in the midst of chaos.
As I considered if my writing made a difference, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to the little girl I used to be if Madeleine L'Engle would have decided her craft was just a work of fantasy and didn’t count. J.K. Rowling sacrificed her marriage and her way of life for Harry Potter, but can you imagine our world without it? What if Leonardo Da Vinci’s father decided his son needed to be logical rather than creative? How empty would the music industry be right now if Jonny Cash would have listened to his first wife and kept his feet planted firmly on the ground? Art matters. Imagination helps us problem solve, consider other perspectives and without it, our world would be bleak and dreary. That is why the Nazi’s burned books and the Dark Ages were so…dark. Creation is enlightenment.
My mother-in-law quilts. For as long as I have known her, she has sat in her little room, matching up squares and creating these beautiful blankets. Is she changing the world? Not really, but her craft touches the people around her, bringing happiness through her fulfillment. And as the matriarch of her family, she shares the gift of permission to do whatever makes you happy. I can’t imagine anyone asking her to give up her purpose and even if they did, she wouldn’t allow it and this is why:
Our children are watching us every day. I can tell you from my own experiences that they learn far more from our actions then they ever will from our words. If you want our youth to pursue their dreams, then we need to live ours. To find joy in the menial tasks, there needs to be love behind the action—love that comes from living our lives with a sense of accomplishment. In order for a baby bird to fly, the fledgling must first watch their parents spread their wings and reach for the clouds.