Purpose - well that's a big topic to start a blog entry with. I tackled my thoughts about perspective in The Long Haul, but purposely (!) stopped short of moving onto purpose. I touched on 'why' I travelled on polar expeditions but not the wider purpose, if indeed there is any.
Choosing to undertake a variety of ways of life; polar travel (plus the resultant writing and speaking engagements) and commercial photography, purpose can be very hard to summarise and become satisfied with. Most of my avenues are in one way or another, part of the creative industry. This comes as a great surprise to me in particular, largely because my formative years were sending me in a direction which was anything but. I studied science at university, was always of a methodical mind and was working towards a career as a Royal Marines Officer. After my first few months in training for this vocation, it became clear that purpose was given to you in that line of work - it was fundamentally inbuilt to the job. Upon a series of badly-timed injuries and leaving 'The Corps', I returned to the areas of my life which had always been important, polar travel and photography, and decided to make a living from them.
Having to create your own purpose brings with it a whole truckload of challenges. I firmly believe that most people underrate their own ability and live their lives using a fraction of their potential. I was determined not to sleep-walk into falling foul of this and resisted any attempt to put me on a career conveyor-belt. As such, self-employment became the obvious path to follow or rather, path to forge. I relish the lifestyle as it has amongst the most primal of principles at its heart. Work hard, diversify and stay flexible and you survive. Become lazy, complacent and uninventive and you sink without trace. It brings me back to my biological studies and fascination with how much humans have insulated themselves from the pressures of nature which dictate each living minute of every other creature on Earth.
So this brings us back to the subject of having a bombproof sense of purpose in a 'creative industry' career. Some might call these the 'unnecessary' jobs - a far cry from saving lives in a surgery or designing the newest efficient car engine. Speakers, photographs, books and expedition guides are 'nice to haves', rather than fundamental to stopping society falling apart at the seams. Or are they? What is it that makes us different from the other creatures we share the landscape with, apart from our ability to manipulate this landscape for our own expansion and gain? Society and civilisation has had the arts at its core since the very beginning, when man began to draw on the walls of caves. It's what makes us human, inventive and progressive. That is as good a purpose as any for me. No more or less important than a surgeon or shelf-stacker.