Sunday 29 January 2023

Nerd Church - The Writer Diaries: Purpose and Existential Crises


I'm used to an existential crisis or two in my life. I usually have at least one a week.

(And the more naive among you probably think I'm joking, or exaggerating in some way. *laughs in hysterical Queer millennial*)

Title: Purpose and Existential Crises Background: stars in space

But one of the few things I've never doubted is my purpose - reading, and writing.

...But whether to fulfil that purpose? 

What fulfilling that purpose looks like? Whether that purpose means anything, in the grand scheme of things? Whether I'm destined to fail in that purpose? Why this is my purpose? Whether we are all doomed to meaninglessness in a universe that dissolves into entropy, and if that is the case, then whether writing some silly little poems or stories is actually worth anything...

...OK. I think you get the gist.

Someone asks my why I write, and I answer 'why do I breathe?' 'why do I sleep?' 'why do I eat?'

...Not that it's an 'easy' thing, just that it's that vital, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm alive. So I write.

But just knowing your purpose, sometimes, isn't enough.

It doesn't answer so many of those other questions.

It doesn't explain the why.

It doesn't explain the how.

Maybe, for people who consistently believe in a creator-God, the answer is simple. 'God did it. God decided you were supposed to do X thing.'

But even if I were the kind of person to have a consistent and unfluctuating belief system that allowed for a creator in that way (and I'm on-the-fence at best about the Christian version of God)... I'd still ask why.

Why me?

Why am I supposed to do this thing?

Why would anyone with ultimate omnipotent cosmic power give a tiny poop about what little old me does or does not do with my life?

...I'm not saying that to be offensive.

I'm just asking questions. It's the way my brain works - sooner or later, I'm going to ask 'why?'

So, I can't relate to all the online advice of 'how to find your purpose' - I've known my purpose since I was four or five years old, and started reading and writing like I'd never had to be taught it in the first place.

'Why should I follow my purpose?' - now that's advice I could do with. 

But most people seem stuck on the 'finding' part, and so that's what all the books and websites address.

You don't see too many people who are 100% sure of what their 'calling' or whatever is, but still don't know what to do.

(I can make an existential crisis out of any damn thing, I swear.)

Which is why it spoke so very strongly to me to watch the character arc of my beloved Klaus Hargreeeves in series 3 of The Umbrella Academy.

(Yes I have managed to link all of my posts this week to The Umbrella Academy - what of it? You know I'm trash!)


(Skip to /END SPOILERS if you don't wanna read 'em)

You know when something just... plays the harpstrings in your core? Like you can feel a moment in a piece of art or media as it echoes around the hollow of your ribcage?

(Or maybe you know the feeling but would express it less uber-dramatically - and that's cool too 😅)

It was that moment, where Klaus' birth mother is telling him he already knows his purpose - it's literally staring him right in the face as he sits in the Void - he just doesn't want to admit it.

(Granted - he knows it but is so far in denial that he's still searching for it, which is a little different to me, but stop harshing my analogy 😅)

That feeling of 'this is the thing... oh, crud.'

Phew. I relate.

(Yes I relate to 99.99% of characters in some way or other - shhh.)

Klaus Hargreeves running from ghosts in the cemetery
Via Giphy

And the 'why?' The - 'OK, do the thing. But... why? And is there a specific moment? And am I gonna miss it? And will I screw it up?'

All that self-doubt and existential searching is very familiar.


In traditional Welsh culture, poetry and the ideal of 'the bard' (no, not Shakespeare - this is way older than him - we're talking 6th Century dudes running around,) are revered.

And the greatest of all bards? Taliesin.

I first learned about Taliesin in my 20s, because tales from Y Mabinogi aren't generally told to 1st language English kids who went to English-medium school (or at least they weren't in the 90s and 00s, when I was growing up.)

And I read (in English - my Cymraeg/Welsh is not that advanced,) the story of Gwion Bach - who made Awen in a cauldron for the witch/goddess (she can be both, just go with it,) Ceridwen, and the Awen spilling onto him, where he licks it off.

The full story takes some interesting turns - including Ceridwen eating Gwion Bach (they were animals at the time, it was a whole thing,) and then giving birth to his reincarnated self, Taliesin.

Lila from The Umbrella Academy: [British expletive] plot twist
Via Giphy

The upshot is - Gwion Bach receives the Awen and becomes the chief bard, Taliesin.

So - what is Awen?

Awen is the spirit of divine inspiration that connects the bard to the universe.

Every moment of eternity is laid out for the bard who is both poet and fortune-teller, who is both scientist and scholar, who is connected to the interconnectedness of things and can see every moment in history because no energy or llwch (...'dust'; think His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman partly grew up in Wales,) is ever lost, just changed.

And I read this... and it was like when I realised I'm Sexually Fluid, it was like when I realised I'm Dyscalculic, it was like when I realised I have synaesthesia and most people don't taste words (which is still weird to me - how do you cope?)

Suddenly, a piece of the world made sense.

Because that's what I feel like - when I write. 

(Not when I'm scribbling out e-mails or like, 'buy milk' - should probably point that out! 😅)

No, I don't mean I can literally time travel or psychicly view the past, but... it feels like a communion, of some sort. Like the universe is actively with me, moving through me. Like there's some vague Celtic mysticism going on.

(And yes, I know, to some people this is gonna seem like a huge romanticisation of writing and poetry etc. - but if you can't romanticise writing and poetry - then what can you romanticise, really?)

It's more than a 'flow state' - far more. A flow state is being immersed in a task - this is more like seeing how the task is immersed in everything else.

And that feels like a really vulnerable thing to admit to.

Because there's two cultures at war in me.

One part of me 

- she has a strong accent, and leans heavily on the Valleys part of my mixed-Welsh-accent speech -

wants to wear my heart on my sleeve and preach from the pulpits of fire-and-brimstone Chapel passion a la Michael Sheen's speech to the Welsh football team and say Yes. This Is Me.

This is my land and my heart and the veins of fire granted to me by the ages.

And the other part 

- she has a flatter accent, pronounces more of the g's at the end of words, and is more understandable to English strangers - 

wants very much to make a sarcastic, self-deprecating remark, and then change the subject to the weather and pretend she's never had an emotion beyond mild amusement. Maybe then she'll go join a queue. In the rain. To buy stamps.

She also wants to say something cruel about all this airy-fairy woo-woo stuff. 

Not least because she remembers being dragged around New Age shops by her parents as a kid, with the bells and the chimes and the smells of... y'know, incense. 

(For the record, my parents weren't into incense, it was the shops.)

Most of all, she wants me to not post this where other people can see it!

This is the unique position of being Welsh, especially if you're English-speaking 

- you've grown up inside two conflicting yet 100% co-existing cultural norms (Welsh and wider British,) that are constantly trying to one-up each other by using your skull as a battlefield.

But even with this... idea, I guess... of Awen.

I have to ask - why is this my purpose?

Why is this the thing that I should do? Why is this thing the thing that I cannot stop doing?

And yes - like Klaus - sometimes it scares me. Just a little.

So, this was... a post.

Please be kind in the comments - feeling kind of vulnerable/cringeworthy here! 😅

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  1. What an interesting post, Cee! And I definitely appreciated TUA connection. Watching Klaus in that scene was really heartwarming especially since we haven't been able to explore much of the sibling's parental history. I definitely relate to the existential crisis, especially considering what I want to do with my life. But blogging is a safe activity where the confusion is welcome!

    1. If there's a topic I haven't had an existential crisis about, it's probably because I haven't heard of it yet! ;)

      (You know I could talk about Klaus for days and not get bored! Lol.)

      I was more than a little hesitant to post this, since parts of it are kind of, y'know, 'out there' - but I *think* I'm glad I posted it (final results to be determined! Lol.)


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