Tuesday, March 3, 2009
A few updates and then on to the main affair.
Don’t miss the Your Creative Career Telesummit on March 21st. Attend from the comfort of your home and jumpstart your career in the arts:
Become one of the world’s first meaning coaches (or come aboard to learn how to answer your own meaning questions) by taking the June Meaning Coach Training:
Now, on to the main affair:
There is a world of difference between actively investing meaning in something and believing that something “should” be meaningful, maybe by virtue of the fact that a word like serious or worthy or useful or spiritual attaches to that something. Maybe you believe that service “should” feel meaningful—but in fact you would like to do a lot less volunteering and a lot more creating. Maybe, conversely, you believe that “nothing is more meaningful than individual effort”—and yet where you really want to invest meaning is in community, collaboration, and fellow feeling. The following email that I received recently does a beautiful job of exploring this idea, about investing meaning without “shoulds” attached (which, by the way, is a very different idea from making unprincipled meaning investments).
Barbara (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
The idea that we are responsible for making meaning in our lives speaks deeply to me. I appreciate your amplification of these ideas. I think that the concept that we search for or find meaning has stood in the way of my creative work. The ideas of making meaning, investing meaning, divesting meaning, meaning crisis, meaning drain, etc. make total sense.
As I look back at the periods in my life when I have been assailed by depression, each moment entailed a meaning crisis. I had invested meaning in a given relationship or activity which ceased to have meaning. I had the mistaken notion that the investment of meaning was permanent, so when the meaning drained away, I was left in despair and blamed myself for it. I now realize that just as I choose to invest meaning, I can also choose to divest meaning instead of feeling that somehow I failed. How freeing that is!
I had thought that I was supposed to write a certain nonfiction book because it was “worthy.” I thought that it “should be” meaningful but it actually wasn’t, which drained energy from my ability to write anything. So I have divested meaning from that project (wish I had done that two years ago!) and am continuing with my mystery writing, where the juice actually is. Writing fiction is much more energizing and freeing for me than the nonfiction project. My mind circles around possibilities—settings, characters, plot—and I can feel my energy increasing.
It is only when I encounter serious difficulties with the fiction (mini-meaning crises) that thoughts of the nonfiction project pop into my head: that that is “worthy” and that mystery writing “isn’t important” and “isn’t serious.” At such times I have to get a grip on mind and remember who is in charge of the meaning in my life!
As for the nonfiction, I intend to read authors who have a developed voice in nonfiction, with the thought of writing nonfiction in the future, but in a different way from the past. There may be pieces of my former project that can be plucked out and explored differently, but I believe that the project as it currently stands speaks to a moment in my past and anchors me there, which ultimately proves meaningless. And the seed of an idea for a literary novel is still that—just a seed. It needs time to develop further before I begin that project. So for now, I am investing meaning in my mystery series—and that feels just right. That is where I can best make meaning at this time!
From what would you like to divest some meaning? Where would you like to make a new meaning investment? Let me know and I’ll share some of your stories. And don’t forget about the meaning training:
Have an excellent Sunday!
Posted by Eric Maisel at 3:30 PM