The Universal Ache of Mattering

Story conference attempt #3 (see #1 and #2):

My friends and I were really obsessed with the Lord of the Rings movies in high school.  If you’re honest with yourself, I’d venture to say you were probably a little bit obsessed, too.  So when I heard that Sean Astin was going to be appearing at Story, I was pretty stoked.  Some know him best as Rudy or as Mikey from The Goonies, but he’ll always be Sam to me…

Reading through my notes now, about a week after the event, I’m remembering that he spoke to something that’s been in my heart of hearts, and one of the recurring themes of this blog.  He told us that when he got the phone call telling him he had landed the role of Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he fell to his knees and cried.  Why?

“I knew I was going to get to do something that really mattered,” he said.

And that’s something that I’ve been searching for for quite a while now.  There’s a tension between needing a job and needing a purpose.  Something about sitting in a cubicle or pulling shots just doesn’t do it for me–it’s a way to earn a living, but not a way I want to spend a life.  I want to use my skills, but more than that, I want to use them in a way that really matters.

Sean said, “Artists thrive when they feel like they can make a difference.”

Absolutely.  I get that.  And I’m dying to make a difference somewhere.  It’s this deep down desire, an ache that I’m called to do so much more.  Someone once pointed out to me that a job is ultimately exchanging hours of your life for pay.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I made a poor exchange.  The challenge is just knowing what that looks like practically.

I want that moment when I’m crippled to my knees with the realization that I’m going to get to do something that really matters.  I think it’s a universal ache.  Our souls crying for something more.  I want to make a difference.  I want to thrive.

Have you had a moment like this?  What did it look like?  How did you answer it?


12 thoughts on “The Universal Ache of Mattering

  1. I’m sitting in my car in the grocery store parking lot weeping after reading this post. I want this so much for you and all those in your generation. The world needs you and what you have to offer. Now I need to mop up and get the rest of my errands done.

  2. I graduated college three years ago and still feel that…I want to make a difference, I want that moment as well. I agree with no sense of direction right now its like a standstill…Your an awesome writer and I am very happy I found your blog!!

  3. Hi Allison! I was moved by Sean Astin’s take on creating too. What impressed me so much with him and what I want also for myself is that he was so driven to leave a mark on the world that would drive others to good and truth. I think about other big-time producers, radio DJs, and music artists, for example, and sure, they may do a good job of entertaining us, but it’s fairly empty. It passes the time, it is forgettable, and it does not contribute to any great cause.

    I want more than that. I’ve quoted this often lately for some reason but Charles Spurgeon said, “Good men are anxious not to work in vain,” and I think it’s healthy for us to cultivate something good, beautiful, and true through our work.

    • Absolutely! Well said, Steph. I had scrawled in my notes “artist as social advocate”. Identifying as an artist is beautiful and exciting in itself, but being able to identify as an artist who advocates and strives for something above and beyond–now that’s beautiful and rich and exciting and noble and awe-inspiring. That’s what I want to be a part of!

  4. Pingback: Start Something That Matters – My First Blog Book Giveaway | The Get-a-Life Project

  5. thanks for the inspiration…lots of quotes and good thoughts to mull over. I’m right there with you wondering which one of my passions to pursue and the best way to do it in order to make a difference.

    • I hope you stumble into something really great in your free time. I know how frustrating it can be to feel that dissonance between your day job and your calling to something great (not knowing what that is). My hope is that someday, we’ll all be able to look back on our lives and be able to connect the dots!

  6. Pingback: Get a Life vs. Get a Job | The Get-a-Life Project

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