Happy New Year! I trust that you had a great holiday season and are now ready to be more purposeful and productive in 2011 than ever before! I will write for a few more weeks and then it will be time to retake your purpose assessment if you accepted my challenge last August to improve your score. Before we get there, however, there are a few more things I want to discuss with you. A few years ago I read an essay entitled Into the Wonder, which was about C.S. Lewis, the great Christian author and apologist, and one of the great creative minds of the last century.
AN UNLIKELY CANDIDATE
The essay began by describing a particularly trying time in Lewis's life when he was living with his brother and an elderly woman. The woman was bedridden and increasingly used Lewis as an extra maid to help meet her needs. Meanwhile his brother, who helped him with correspondence and filing, drank himself to insensibility and ended up in a hospital. The pressures of this situation, along with his work load at Oxford, drove Lewis to the point of collapse and he was eventually hospitalized for exhaustion.
It was shortly thereafter that Lewis had a friend over to read him a portion of a new children's book that Lewis was writing. This book became The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which was the first of the Chronicles of Narnia, which to date has sold 85 million copies in 30 languages.
What is so interesting to me about this scenario?
First, Lewis wrote perhaps his most famous work at a most inopportune time in his life. I often feel like I can't be more creative or productive until certain things change, until my life is free of worry, anxiety or mental clutter. Lewis didn't wait for the best time. In fact, in a time of suffering and professional busy-ness, he began to write fiction for children, a most unusual exercise for a man known more at that point for his theological rather than fantasy work.
Second, Lewis was not married at the time and had no children (he had two stepsons from his marriage to Joy Gresham and maintained a relationship with the boys after his wife's death). I think it remarkable that Lewis could write so effectively for children when he had none of his own.
Finally, Lewis was a loner as a child. His childhood, while not sad or abusive, wasn't filled with the kind of childhood joys upon which he could draw to write his stories.
NO MORE EXCUSES
Lewis produced creative work in spite of his personal difficulties. You must learn to do the same. You can no longer not create because circumstances in your life aren't quite right. Neither can you dismiss your creative ideas because you don't see yourself as qualified or fit. Lewis was neither a happy child nor natural father, yet he wrote children's books that changed the world. What could you do if you stopped hiding behind excuses and limitations and just did it?
It seems that Lewis's hardships prepared him to create; his suffering somehow fueled his drive to write. If you can see that your suffering is preparation and not a hindrance, you will find new freedom to produce when it may not seem like a good time to produce. And please don't tell anyone that you don't have the time to create. You have all the time in the world--24 hours every day. It's not that you don't have time; you aren't using it creatively to create.
May 2011 be your most purposeful and productive yet. Together let's do things that will change our generation (and future ones) just like C. S. Lewis did. Have a great week and year!
THE BIG GOAL: I posted two thank you notes from Kenya to help you understand the impact you are making when you help the projects there through PurposeQuest. You can read them here and then please give as we close out the year to help me continue the work there. You can give through my website or send a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.
Thank you and God bless you.