I once heard a story about the making of BBC’s “Gormenghast”. A white crow was required for the show and the producer had no idea how they were going to find one. Should they create one using CG trickery he thought? They didn’t have enough money for that. Should they bleach a real crow? No, too cruel. One evening the producer was driving home from set racking his brains for a solution to no avail so he turned on the radio for some distraction. A woman from the local animal sanctuary was on saying how they were currently caring for a new resident—an albino crow! The producer turned the car around immediately and headed straight for the sanctuary.
To some people this story may have all the hallmarks of fate or destiny but I believe it’s something quite different, something far more empowering. When we have purpose sometimes things just seem to fall into place. But this is not some sort of benevolent cosmic power, no, our senses have been finely tuned by purpose to sniff out what we need to fulfill our goals and we do it unconsciously, whether its to find a job, learn the guitar, pass our exams or find an albino crow.
Of course, one the hardest challenges for any of us is discovering what our purpose is. Some people seem to know from a very early age what they want in life but I was not one of those people. I found that its just as valid to let purpose find you rather than the other way round. When I graduated with a degree in journalism I had the idea that it might be interesting to work in television so I became a runner on a reality TV series. It can be pretty demoralising running around taking coffee orders all day for no pay but as a runner you do have an insiders chance to pick a TV role and work your way up. My problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to become so after the show was finished I just left the company and found myself jobless while the other runners took the next step up the ladder.
The next job I took was as a production assistant at an animation company. Again, I had no real affinity with animation but I took the role because I needed the money. But then slowly animation seemed to take a hold of me. I found that I was fascinated by the animation process and I enjoyed working with large crews of creative people. What’s more, I discovered that I was good at managing them and was able to get the best out of them. For the first time I was enjoying my job and actively seeking knowledge about the world of animation. Now that purpose had found me I was able to go on to work on animated films and this eventually took me to Paris to work on Despicable Me.
It seemed that things were just falling into place for me, but they weren’t. I was actively seeking out the opportunities that interested me. Sure, we all have a bit of luck sometimes, both good and bad, but when we have purpose we are able to steer our destinies somewhere near where we want them to be. My advice to anyone who struggles with purpose is to try everything, do everything, apply for everything. The more feelers you put out into the world the better chance that something inspiring will come back to you and take you on a path you never thought you would tread.
Written by Alex Dowding
Photography courtesy of net_efekt