Welcome to Sunday Spin, where I dish about life beyond the realm of writing.
An eel flitting through water
Like a swirl of ink
That leads the story home
Everything in life has a purpose, right? Last weekend, my parents-in-law were fishing and caught an eel. He couldn’t (wouldn’t? ) take it off the hook, so he asked her to do it. She didn’t have enough light, so they decided to wait until morning.
The next morning the eel was hanging out in the water, still attached to the hook. Alas, even with light, the eel was impossible to remove—so they cut the line. They felt bad about it, knowing that with a hook in its mouth it might not be able to eat and will likely die. This of course led to guilt at having maimed one of nature’s unwitting creatures. Which then led to her question, what is an eel’s purpose?
I had no idea. But her question got me thinking about life purpose in general. I thought back to a college psych course where my professor talked about a honey bee’s true purpose.
Is it to make honey? Or something else?
The honey bee has a goal to collect nectar to make honey. One might think this is the true purpose of the bee. But what else happens once the nectar is collected?
Is it possible, then, that the side effect, and not the goal, is the honey bee’s true purpose?
For most of us writers, our goal is to be published, to sell books. But what is the value of that goal? Simply being a published author in and of itself isn’t very valuable. However, if we publish our books so that we can help other aspiring writers, for example–well, that would be pretty darn valuable.
Then what do you think would happen? If we’re working toward our goal while enriching the life of someone else, then the side effect would be that we help someone in the process, which might be our true purpose. Think about it–if our true purpose in life is to publish then we’d have nothing left to achieve.
That’s why, perhaps, instead of focusing so hard on that one goal (being published), we need to think about the side effects of being published.
As writers, ask yourself these questions. How can you help a young child struggling with reading? How can you use your new title of “Author” to reach underprivileged communities? Would you raise the bar and write another book, a better book? Would you decide you’ve had enough, it’s too much work, and you need to use this experience as a stepping stone so that you can move forward in life? Would you reach out to fellow writers and share your experience, give them a helping hand and the name of your agent?
If we get too tangled up in that fishing line, can’t get off the hook of our dreams, then we just might miss the true purpose of being writers. A chance for us to turn around and give back or pay it forward, whatever direction you want to take it.
And as far as eels go, aside from being a link in the food chain or made into wallets, maybe their life purpose is to have given me this idea for a blog post.
Have you found your true purpose in life?