I carry a burden with me. A fear, if you will. It cleaves to me, like some ceaseless disease that will never heal. It keeps me up nights, visits me in wild dreams, is palpable when I wake. The thing that haunts me, that lurks in the shadows like some throwaway vagabond, the thing I fear most, is living a life of no consequence. That my life doesn’t matter; makes no profound contribution to the pages of human existence.
But it is with this very burden that a sense of purpose is imbued in my life. It is this very burden that serves as my guiding light in a world laden with roaming darkness. And so the questions arise. How do I make my life worth something? How will my life matter?
God, the Great Creator, while making us in His own image, bestowed on us the ability to create. Out of all of the animals and beings of the universe, we hold ownership solely in that eternal gift. Dogs cannot create. A beaver may build a dam, but this is not creation. Creation requires intelligent design. We do not create out of instinct, but inspiration. A beaver is never inspired to create his dam; he does so as a means of survival. But should we not, just as the beaver builds for survival, conclude that inspired creativity is a necessity for complete and full human existence? That if we fail to create, we fail to live.
So as entities where creativity is exclusive, therefore, we must create. And if we must create, should we not create greatly? For God himself, through the world, has given us the greatest creation. While surveying the corners of the world, we see this. We surmise quickly that a mediocre world He did not make, and through this greatness of nature He demonstrated His unfailing love. And thus, He did not intend for us to live mediocre lives of perpetual self-gratification. We honor Him by becoming more LIKE HIM, and in mediocrity and vanity we cannot approach Almighty God.
And through His illustrious example, should we then refuse in our own art to pursue greatness? Whatever I choose to do, I MUST do it greatly. This is my burden. I cannot settle for anything other. Anything other leaves me empty, and restless.
I have spent the great portion of my life pursuing greatness in what I do. And sadly, I have only found it in limited doses. But this pursuit is never in vain. It is through this striving to become great that true and potent growth occurs. It is in these moments of discomfort that we bounce against the cocoon and burst out of our encasing.
God has structured life so that greatness is not something that is easily attained. Humans do not have the same ability for greatness as does God. Therefore, we must work to become great. We must try, and in those persevering moments, those moments that challenge and test us, those moments in which we must heave up our bootstraps, that we are truly working for the Lord.
The life with the greatest sadness is a life that does not create. When our lives and our days are reduced to punching a timeclock, concluded by hours in front of a television set, then we do not have much of a life. There has to be more than this, more than the shackles of unfulfilling work, work that neither stimulates us nor allows us to find any sense of worth and meaning. There must be more to life than the boring regimen of day-to-day sameness, the tedious monotony of work and sloth.
Therefore it is imperative that we follow our bliss. That our choosing is the one thing that we HAVE to do, the one thing allows us the greatest ability to create, allows us in certain moments to behold true joy that arrives when we finish and complete. And then, to share our little creations with our friends, hoping that their lives are bettered because of the things that our hands and minds, divinely inspired, have manifested. Does this mean that we all choose to be artists in the strictest sense of the word? No. A world of painters would not be much of a world. But we, in our own ways, have the responsibility to find new and fresh frontiers that surges humanity to greater heights. This, no doubt, has to have greater weight than money, fame, or approbation. But because of our own self-centeredness, we do not do things for mankind’s sake. We do things solely for our own benefit, so that our selfish desires and insecurities are relentlessly fed. But when we create, and in that effort pursue to create greatly so that we may impact a greater largesse, then we do find that our lives have worth and pulse. The greatness of God is that He allows us this latitude even in the most menial forms of labor. Surely it is in these dull and dour moments that our greatest work can be done.
I have chosen to be a writer. But writing for greatness sake or the applause of life is not enough. There must be more. To write is to search for the universal through our circumstances. To look inward, and come to a greater understanding of the worth and meaning of our life. To bring new angles of viewing truth into the world.
My purpose in writing is not to duplicate what other writers have already done. And thus, my purpose in life should not be to duplicate what others have done. I hope that my greatness will derive from some other inspiration. That I will be great in my own right, and that my reason for pursuing greatness is not of any vain impulse, but that somehow, even if for reasons I do not understand, that humanity is served.
And our further hope is that as we plod into the sun-bright horizons of excellence, of newness, that we become great and good men. That through our pursuit of greatness we widen our eyes to the lessons that the Father is teaching us. That we are better men and women than we were yesterday.
I would like to share with you some thoughts from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. While his assertions are in regards to the writing, I believe that he provides essential questions that we all must consider as we make the decision of what to do with our life.
“Go into yourself, search for the reason that bid you to write. Find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart. Acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if were denied you to write. This above all, ask yourself in the stillest moment of your night, must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you should meet this earnest question with a strong and simple—I must— then build your life according to this necessity.”
To matter. To mean something. To create. And through our creating, to serve.
Yes. This is a good reason for living.