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  • Writer's pictureMark

Calculus of Purpose

One of the things I learned in calculus class is when trying to figure out an equation it helps to take a variable and take it to an extreme. What happens at zero, or infinity, or negative infinity? That’s kind of the thing I did with crocheting.

My sister was going to Moscow on a mission trip when I first started crocheting. She told me flat out, “Don’t crochet me any mittens. I hate crocheted mittens.” Well, don’t we all? If you’ve ever had a pair of those you’ll know what I’m talking about. The wind goes right through them and they’re nearly worthless. I agreed. But the contrary part of me said to the rest of me, “Challenge accepted.”

So one day I’m looking at the beginning of a crochet project and noticed something. I won’t go into details because it’s a bit of “inside baseball” and won’t make a lot of sense to those who don’t crochet. I thought, “Ya know, there’s a way to take this to an extreme.” Like an equation or function in calculus.

It took perhaps a month to figure out what to do. Crocheting a certain way would give a double-thickness and interwoven quality to crochet, and it would work great as a mitten. After working out in my head the process of making a mitten with this stitch, I made a pair of mittens for my sister. Since she was in Russia, I decided to call it Siberian Stitch.

There was no reason to doubt her when she told me she loved them. Since then I’ve made dozens of pairs of mittens (maybe hundreds), all of which I’ve given away. But I wasn’t satisfied.

“These would make decent potholders,” I thought to myself. So I crocheted some potholders, and again taking things to extremes I thought, “Hey, afghans are really big potholders. This stitch would make a really warm afghan.”

A few extremes later I figured out how to make patterns and images on the afghan, and eventually images on the opposite side different from the front. I’ve made dozens of those, and gave them away like I did with the mittens.

You might ask why I’m bringing this up. To answer that I need to digress a bit.

I consider myself a fairly good author. Soon there will be a book released I think is pretty innovative. Writing is what I believe is my calling. God has given me a gift and I’m doing what I can in that arena to glorify Him. But what if that’s not my purpose?

I’ve posed the concept to Linda. “Wouldn’t it be a real kick in the pants if, when I get to Heaven, God looks at me and says, ‘You did great on those afghans. Well done.’ To which I can see myself asking, ‘What about those stories I wrote?’ ‘Yeah, those were good too, but the afghans are what I wanted you to do.’”

Linda and I got a pretty good laugh at the concept of spending your life on what you think God wants you to do, only to find out it’s some other teeny thing (to you) that was really important to God.

Which brings me to the Thing I want to discuss: freedom.

Is freedom the ability to do what you want, when you want? A college prof of mine was fond of saying, “Modern Americans think freedom is picking between a Big Mac and a Whopper.” He’s right. That’s not freedom.

Freedom is fulfilling your purpose, whether it’s shingling houses, writing novels, or crocheting afghans. Some think their fulfillment comes from lounging around all day and entertaining themselves. Maybe they like to get drunk, maybe play video games, watch movies, or eat corn chips and bean dip.

Hey. Don’t judge me. LOL

I recently gave away an afghan of the American flag. The front has the field of fifty, the back had the circle of thirteen. The man I gave it to was moved to tears. That could be considered one of my proudest moments. Right up there with the first time I wrote “The End” on my first novel, or seeing my first book in print.

That’s why I wonder if writing is my calling.

As I write this I’m working on another afghan to give away to someone who probably has no idea I’m doing this. By the time this will be scheduled to post she’ll probably have it. And I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she gets it.

Maybe THAT is my purpose. When I take this equation to infinity I don’t really know what happens. But I’ll keep writing and crocheting because I find both of them fulfilling.

That’s freedom.

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