Thursday, March 18, 2010

Convergence of ideas: Making meaning

A half-dozen things in my life have converged over the past week to make me acutely conscious of the meaning we make as human beings. On Valentine's Day this year, I gave up using sugar as a sedative, another step in my desire to live life on life's terms, as we say in AA. Escaping addiction is almost impossible if we don't find meaning in our lives, our relationships, our beliefs, our creative work, in something that sustains us. And so my quest for meaning in my life has taken on a heightened intensity. I'm seeking that sense of satisfaction, of contentment that comes from being engaged in the meaningful.

Adding to this is a marvelous book my spiritual director recommended, one that had been sitting unread on my shelf for at least a decade: Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl talks about the existential vacuum, where nothing seems worth living for and how our current society fills that vacuum with acquisition of goods and with distractions, both technological and pharmaceutical.

The third piece of this for me are two classes I'm currently taking with creativity coach Eric Maisel, both of which are hinging on the meaningful in art-making. "What would constitute a meaningful project for me?" and "What is meaningful work?" are our two questions for contemplation this week. These are important issues for all of us, and they seem particularly important to me as a writer, creative, and creativity coach.

Jonathan Franzen noted that fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money. I can see how this is related to the novel I'm currently working on. I'll share more about this tomorrow.

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