Tag Archives: purpose

“I try my best not to slip and fall and spill words on a page by accident. And by that I mean words don’t appear on the page by mistake; but sometimes I do fall asleep behind the wheel and wake up to discover a 27 word pileup that’s blocking traffic both ways and has created a backup for several miles. Emergency services are not on their way.”

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Tumbleweeds

I don’t know much about reincarnation, but from what I’ve gathered, it seems like the soul is like a tumbleweed. It grows throughout it’s life, and then when it is time it actualizes, or maybe just then, it first realizes its purpose as it leaves its roots behind and wanders until it finds somewhere to rest. And it starts all over again.

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Art and Ants

Post a 6 second video on youtube and nobody cares. “Why is it so short? They could have done so much more.” Post a 6 second video on Vine: “Wow. Look what they did with only 6 seconds!”
It’s funny how something like Vine can take off so rapidly. Youtube and video sharing has been around for quite some time. Have our attention spans gotten shorter, or are we just more efficient about filling our down time with entertaining snippets and having the ability to share them with anyone around the world with the touch of a screen?
…or is there an artist in everyone?
I’ve come to notice, through personal experience, as well as impersonal experience, that if you place a creative person in a big open room and tell them “you can do whatever you want as long as you reach the wall,” they won’t know what to do. They’ll start with an idea and walk one direction, like that band, and then maybe get another idea of equal merit and head off in another direction because “it might be worth exploring.” that phrase is the sappy goop that bogs you down.
From an artistic/creative point of view, literally everything is worth exploring, which gives you no better reason to go one way over the other. But the artist doesn’t know that, so they run around in circles going from one place to the next, running toward the wall, but never reaching it because they obtain this strange sense of empathy with the wall, that by touching one part of the wall they are also not touching every other point on the wall, and thus the artist is not living up to their potential.
The metaphor isn’t perfect, but it’s like an ant wandering around in search of food. It doesn’t know where it is, so it could be anywhere, so the ant goes anywhere. It cannot go everywhere — that is impossible — but the point is not to go everywhere. The point is to go somewhere. This is where Vine comes back into the equation.
What every artist needs, and may not be willing to admit, are restrictions. Restrictions are what force you to move with undoubting purpose. Restrictions are what force you to think creatively. The most common restriction we have are deadlines, and then of course you can go from there. Some people complain about them “…Ugh, and the whole thing has to fit on a 6×6 inch space! Can you believe that?” Yes. Yes, I certainly can. I enjoy these little restrictions because they provide a challenge, but even better yet, they provide a direction and get your mind to tick a way it wasn’t ticking before. Whether you like it or not, that’s called being creative. So as is the case with this whole sicks second video Vine thing, people might not know how to express their thoughts in video form about something ‘trivial’ that may be very funny or insightful, but doesn’t warrant ‘a whole video just for that.’ But then a 6 second restriction comes along, and here you are thinking about how can you condense your rambling, yet insightful, thoughts on breakfast cereal into a succinct and witty snippet. And best of all is when people normally wouldn’t do something creative, now feel as though they have an outlet for it that didn’t exist before, so they start making videos. It’s not that videos didn’t exist, but rather that that way of thinking about videos hadn’t existed to them yet.

“Get from A to B.”
“Okay, I’ll just walk.”
“Between A and B is all water.”
“I’ll take a bote.”
“You need to get there in 3 seconds.”
“I’ll take a jet powered hydrofoil.”
“Now that’s something I want to see.”

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, as I don’t know why I started writing it, but for some reason I want to end on the image of the wandering ant, and then you put a piece of food in that room and the ant heads straight for it. It’s a closed room with walls, solid construction, and locked doors, so you have no idea how a thousand other ants came out of nowhere and started helping this ant carry the food. It’s not that you gave the solitary wandering ant some food, you gave it a goal. Before, the ant traveled an aimless path leading nowhere, but now you can clearly see a stream of ants winding across the room, like a vine, showing you where it’s come from, where it’s been, and where’s it’s going next.

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Chair Stare

A lady in a wheelchair asked me “are you using this chair?” A part of me wanted to say, “don’t you already have a seat?” But the bigger part of me just stammered and shook my head; more so in confusion than in reply. She towed the wooden chair across the tile floor of the coffee shop, turning heads and whatnot, and then plopped it in front of a cushy armchair in the corner. She neither sat in the wooden chair, nor the cushy armchair. She was waiting for a friend, which cleared up my confusion about someone chair-bound asking for a chair, but when her friend came, she sat in the cushy armchair and the wooden chair just stood there, staring at them. After a few minutes the woman in the cushy armchair set her purse down on the wooden chair. I was still confused as to why the chair had been brought over, but at least it had a purpose, so I got back to work.

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The Process

I consider myself a writer, but when someone asks me if I’ve written anything, I can’t give them a straight answer. I say “kind of” or “I’m working on something right now” and then go into explaining a project or making something up on the spot. The truth is I’m writing all the time in my head, in my life, and with my life. I see the narrative every day; the irony, the suspense, the folly, the heartbreak, the joy, the triumph, and sometimes even the foreshadow. Writing isn’t about how you can put words on paper, but how you take in and interpret the world so that others, and you yourself, can see it in a new way… so I’m writing every day, but what do I get for it? I don’t get paid for it. I feel like I work so much, but so little makes it on to paper, and the stuff that does isn’t even near my best work, isn’t close to what I see every day. It’s like the thrill and challenge of writing is discovering the story as it happens, whether that be in your life or fictionalized in your head. Once I’ve discovered the story I feel as though there’s nothing left to gain or learn from simply by transcribing that discovery on to paper. Obviously that is false, and others can learn from the same discovery of the story, but I’m just saying that’s how it feels to me. Now I’m trying to figure out if that means I’m just a selfish person if I don’t trudge through the monotonous work of writing things down. Other functioning members of society work the same routine and weekday schedule most of their lives just to get by, but for some reason I can’t sit down for an afternoon an focus enough to write out a story. Do I somehow, deep down, think that writing is superior to other occupations? Is that why I’m like this? Or do I, deep down, think that the world is going to end and I’m going to die and the sun will turn into a black hole and all of human history will be lost, so ‘why should I even bother writing a little story?’ I may never figure out why I do the things I do, or why I write all the time, yet still have written nothing; but at least I still have the ability to write, and hopefully one day, trudging through all these roaming thoughts I can find a reason for all this writing—a narrative… a discovery…

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“You can turn the wheel all you want, but if you don’t step on the gas, you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

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I suppose as your writing teacher I’m supposed to give you an assignment. So for that assignment I would like you to write something.

Is that it?

Yes.

Just, anything?

No, something. Something in particular.

What does it need to be about?

Like I said, something.

Well, if there’s basically no rules, can I just sneeze on a piece of paper and turn it in?

This isn’t art class–there are rules here. I try to keep it simple, but you people keep trying to be creative and keep messing it up, so I don’t add any more rules. I’ve had many students try to write about anything and it never works out.

Okay, so how long does it need to be?

Write until you think I’m convinced, then stop.

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Spoiler Alert

Why is it important to make friends, pursue your dreams, try new things just so you can get embarrassed? I would tell you why, but that would ruin the whole purpose. I just want you to do them, then take a step back and learn, so when the time comes where your son questions why should we stretch ourselves to do so many things, you will have acquired the wisdom to not tell him either.

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