So the last few days I've been sick. Just a head cold, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm at my absolute worst with full sinuses. As part of coping, I watched some rom-coms at night, and by chance, the two I watched both had protagonists who found, through many plot twists and turns, the joy of being single.
On a seemingly random and yet related note, we just got 15 pullets (young hens) after a winter of being chickenless except for a rooster who we wanted to keep because he is a very good rooster. Some roosters are mean. Some are stupid. Some are useless. It's worth hanging on to the kind, gentle ones that actually watch over their flock.
This rooster had a long, cold, lonely winter, and so it is a true delight now to watch him interact with the new flock. One of the things that is most evident is that he has a PURPOSE again. Now he can scratch up tender grubs and make little chucking noises to call over the nearest hen to eat it. Now he can crow at potential threats and have that alarm have real meaning. Now he can keep a vigilant eye on things from the top of the compost heap for someone's benefit other than his own.
Seeing Solo (his name is almost too perfect given his lonely winter, I know, but I swear we named him because he was the last surviving chick of his clutch) rediscover his purpose has got me reflecting on my own purpose in life, and how much of that revolves around creating a home and providing for my family. Many of the things I do are to create the experiences for my girls, or to make a home life that feels a certain way. If I lived alone, would I wash the dishes? Would I vacuum the floors? Probably, but the point is not whether I'm doing these things for me or for them. The point is that I do it for them, and then I get to enjoy it, too.
What I'm realizing is that this service to my family is my purpose in life. Sure, there are other goals of service, having to do with what I do for a living, but I do those things SO THAT I CAN PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY.
Which brings us to the central question: if you are single, or don't have kids, what the heck are you supposed to make of this? Is life just a waiting game of playing at adulthood until you have a family and then that all changes?
I don't think so.
I think that this service to others is not just something we give to our families. It can be a way of approaching the world, extended to our family, friends, acquaintances. It can be the basis of business and it can be how we seek to make the world a better place than how we found it.
I believe it is important to be self-aware enough to know what you need to be happy, and to fight for that, but I also think that you can go too far down the road of self-realization, and end up taking care of only yourself. And ultimately, that won't hold a candle to the pleasure of taking care of others.
So it's good for me to see Solo stalking around the chicken meadow, a couple of chickens in tow. It's good for me to have two tiny whirlwinds of chaos in my life to clean up after. It's good that it's not just me, looking after me. I do better, and I think we all do better, when our actions are at least partly done for the sake of others.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.