Nothing just happens. Neither merit nor value appear out of thin air. Nothing of worth simply grows on trees. Even a tree works to make a harvest,to produce fruit. It endures heat, and drought, and weather, and winter. It makes something out of water, earth, and air. A tree Persists. Resists. Endures. Prepares. It stores sugar and practices patience. Combines effort and resilience. Blossoms and blooms. It makes a carpel to protect the work of making seeds. It makes something sweet to give the seeds a broader reach – the worth of it’s will to keep going. The ripened truth of its ability to tarry, to abide, to carry on. And then, after its all over, when its all done and said, it starts the work again.

Photo of Patti Smith next to her quote that reads: "I have to work ver hard at all things that I do in order that the might be of worth"
The work is worth it

Patti Smith says that “I have to work very hard at all the things that I do in order that they might be of worth.” Why write? Why make things, or do anything at all? What’s the point of expelling energy, of exhausting efforts, of putting in the time? It’s the belief that the work is worth it. That the worth is in the work. That the worth is the work, itself. But, more importantly, because it’s simply what we do. At heart is an artist’s labor theory of value –  life, love, the world, all of it – everything has value and it is worth the work laboring for, over and over again.

a collage of paper scraps with a Maria Popova quote that sas: "All of our creative work is our coping mechanism for life"
A private lifeline

“All of our creative work is our coping mechanism for life”, Maria Popova says. It is the tangible means of our “self-salvation”, our indomitable ongoing-ness, our obstinate resolve. “It may touch other lives, salve and save them even, but it is always at bottom a private lifeline.” It’s the proof that we have survived the harshest seasons. The diminishing daylight. The shifts into the dark. That we taught our cells to tolerate the cold. That even in the slow dormancy we have never stopped working. We learned to make a flower. A candy liquid. A shielded seed desperate to be sown. Our determination to persevere.

The absurd

I’m not convinced that there’s an overarching purpose, that there’s an objective meaning to be had. At the center of absolutely everything is the confrontation with the absurd. The absurdity that ‘we are’. The absurdity that there is anything at all. We brave the weight of elements beyond what we can bear. Through every bend, crack, and creak, we recover. We come back better. Garnering a girth we didn’t have before. We find a kind of destiny in the darkness. A semblance of strength in the struggle. Something akin to success in the strain. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to make it through.

Meaning and Purpose

Purpose is the work we give to a process. Meaning is something that we create. We make things from the raw materials of what we’re given, from what we have, from what remains. Accepting the suffering and the labor. Accepting it’s arbitrary nature. We build with it and upon it anyway, because we know that value, merit, worth, and virtue take a lot of work to grow.

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  1. Pingback: The density of the present... - Duane Toops

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