What’s the point?

It’s easy to fall into habits, to do what is expected or wanted by others. As a consequence it pays to stop every now and then and ask why you’re doing something. What is this for? Where am I going with it? What is it costing me (and I don’t just mean money)? What am I achieving? Is this even a good idea?

We’re taught to think about ambition in terms of worldly success, money and status. However, our hearts and minds respond to all kinds of things. Being ambitious is really, really good, but only if you’re doing it on your own terms. So, what are my terms?

I’ve spent weeks with these questions recently, needing to make some significant life decisions. I learned a lot. I will start by asking whether something is of practical or economic benefit to my household, because I have to factor that in. I will consider the environmental impact, or benefits, and think about wider social implications and who is benefiting, or paying for the idea. Beyond that, my absolute preference is to pick the jobs no one else can do, because I can take real pride in that.

Sometimes, the jobs no one else can do are all about my unique skills set and experiences. Last month I had the honour of getting to proof read the third Matlock the Hare book. Who else could edit who knows Dalespeak? Who else can make the time for some 200,000 words of fiction having read the other two books so as to be alert to continuity? It was a joy to do.

Sometimes it comes down to my unusual capacity to stay focused on long, fiddly, tedious jobs. At the community allotment, I’ve spent mornings picking stone out of the ground to make way for plants. I once spent a month painting all the exterior woodwork at my son’s school because it needed doing, and there was no money to do it, and this is not the kind of job you can usually get volunteers for. It doesn’t have to be glamorous. There are a lot of really important things that need doing, which do not confer status or wealth on the person doing it. Picking up litter, being an obvious one. I will be there for those jobs, not because I am uniquely capable, but because I am willing.

If there are lots of people who can and will do something as well, or better than I could, I’ll probably step back. Those jobs rapidly lose interest for me. I don’t want to be interchangeable. Plus there’s every chance someone else has a unique skill set that would transform the work, elevate it, bring in some new dimension. I don’t want to get in the way of that.

It’s possible to do anything well, with style, creativity and in a way that makes the task more valuable than it first seemed. For some people, the kitchen can only ever be a place of drudgery. For others, it’s the place of witchcraft, magic and delight. We are all likely to be happiest in the spaces where we find our own personal magic, where we can make contributions uniquely our own. When we put down the material-wealth-based ideas about worth and start looking at what we find intrinsically valuable, life changes.

And so I have laundry to handwash, a cake to make, and books to review. I have rubbish to upcycle and pages to colour. In knowing what I do best, and where I fit I am able to work happily, and not to feel irrelevant, or interchangeable, or insignificant. There is significance in moving the stones to make way for plants, which supposedly more glamorous jobs for which I am unsuited, would not give me.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “What’s the point?

  • Ella Wherry

    You know, I began reading the first paragraph and thought….’oh no, she is going to stop writing this blog.’ And I was gripped in angst, as you have a way of connecting thought and emotion, arriving so eloquently to a fine point. And lately, feeling insignificant and irrelevant have been devouring my days…blocking my creative impulse; and then I read your words, your life efforts, which much like mine seem to be the invisible background web that holds lives together, and am refreshed in knowing that other weavers sometimes feel the same. Bless you!

    • Nimue Brown

      Sorry about that! But, I get enough feedback on the blog to know there are people who value it, and that’s plenty enough reason to keep it going. I may have to reduce post frequency sometimes, but there will be something every week, even in the really crazy times!

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Knowing who your are, and what is important to you, is the first step to creating a life that works for. Knowing your particular strengths and weaknesses, can help keep you energy where it will do the most good and get them the least wasted. Knowing you passions and allowing them into your life keeps your life from being a chore and dreaded. Fun and enjoyment are necessary for happiness, and it increases our appetite for living our lives, rather then just going with the flow and just drifting.

  • Victoria Furminger

    I enjoyed reading this piece as I know all to well the terrible trait of comparison against others that are more ‘successful’ than yourself. But that depends on your definition of ‘successful’.
    I’m happy in the creations I make and the tasks I do. Alright, I might not be making big waves but it’s enough to keep me and those around me smiling. And that’s what counts – smiles, happiness, contentment.

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