On Purpose

The end is coming. The time for the books to close, the caps to don, the tassels to flip. On the brink of University graduation, I sit in almost crushing silence. I sit, waiting for the answers to come – Where will I go? What will I do? With who? What do I want to do? For most, I have simple answers. I will be here. I will be a nurse. I will marry my fiancé and live with him – and move with him when the time comes. My friends will leave, and new ones will come. But as for the last, the question of desire, or perhaps better, the question of need. What do I need to do to feel purpose? To feel I am living a full life? I don’t need to be a nurse; I don’t need a nurse’s salary. I don’t need to be married. I don’t need to move.

I need to create. And to create well. After a year of working in a coffee shop I have come to express, at last, what I have been trying to tangibly explain for years. The art of process with the value of completion is at the core of being.

As children we learn simple actions of creation – we learn how to pour yellow paint into blue and create vibrant green. We learn how to plant little seeds into empty egg cartons and watch as little sprouts grow. We learn to mix flour with butter to create pastry by watching our mothers. We learn these things as a part of life, the essential aspects that make life, through our young eyes magical and wonderful and exciting. We crave this, we yearn to be the ones mixing the paint, watering the egg cartons and in control of the flour. Yet as we grow up, we grow farther away from this desire to create. We become accustomed to things ready made and simple, we ease ourselves into a luxurious life of immediate satisfaction. We delude ourselves with the corrupt whispers of society saying “this is the life, the fast track is the way, the only way to happiness.” Our professors ask how we will support ourselves, how will we make money, where are we going to work.  They do not ask how we will sustain our soul, how we will seek beauty, how we will create. The focus is shifted. We work for money, we work for status, we work to keep up with the tireless economy around us. We work, following dreams we never had in a world that never sleeps.

And I don’t want to do it anymore.

The coffee shop in which I worked was not a franchise. There was no provided health insurance, no Christmas bonuses or 12 pounds of coffee for free. No, there was only a purpose, a mission, to be a space of community, a space of intentional creation. While I worked there, yes there were days I did not want to sweep the floor – and I only did it out of obligation to my boss, but there were also days when I could not wait for someone to order a cappuccino – so I could serve them, and serve them well. There were days I could not wait to get to work on dusting, or mopping, or wiping syrup off the counters, because these were elements that affected the space – a space I was trying to create – a space of peace, thought, ingenuity, safety.

I find these same habits in myself elsewhere. When I dance, even a rhythmic and steady bit of ballet creates a space, a space of art and time and beauty. And I desire for the space that I fill, in that dance, to be filled well. When I write, I create sentences, I fill a space, on the paper, in someone’s mind, and I want it to be done well. When I run, I run to create a stronger body, a clearer mind. When I clean my room, I create a space for me, a place I know, a place of safety, serenity, unchanging. I do this innately now, and I wish to do it intentionally. To take the time each day to think about my actions, regard them with care, and move forward with good purpose – this would be ideal.

And this is truly what I want to do, to continue doing. For some, it’s their calling. My art major friends will confidently go on creating beautiful sculptures or portraits. The musicians will make music, the scientists will make discoveries, the engineers will make efficient equipment, the financiers will make good businesses. And the rest? What of me? The nurse. The writer. The longing philosopher sitting in a cap and gown that feels more like a straight jacket. The student, almost a grad, with a propelled career path, headed straight to making money. Money to pay off loans. Money to pay for groceries. Money. They ask me how much money will I make? What will you be making? What does that job make? If you measure its making on money, then it makes nothing. It spurns a desire for greed that snuffs out the creativity of man.

No, no I will create. For we are all, in some way, shards of a great Creator. We are all reflective of His will and longing to create. And so I will follow that. I will create. Be it good meals, intentional conversation, written prose, poorly painted watercolours on rainy days, good cups of coffee, bad cups of coffee, gardens, space. I will create, I will open the space for people to be comfortable, vulnerable and raw. I will create community with those like minded and those unalike. I will create a place where beauty can be cultivated, and the Creator glorified in manifest ways.

I have not held a post graduate job yet, but I imagine when I start I will be stressed and anxious and lost, clinging to some lost direction. I hope I do not lose the purpose of why I am there. To create. And to create well.