“Dress for Purpose, not Success.”

M.J. Downing

I could be writing this while wearing pajamas—maybe with a cowboy hat. Believe me when I say that I look ridiculous in a cowboy hat, too. Or, I could be in my kilt, sweater, and Glengarry jacket, like Doctor Watson at the end of “Werewolves of Edinburgh.” I could be wearing anything to write a post on my blog. It has no dress code, and as this pandemic has taught us, we don’t have to fix ourselves up to quarantine. And that’s why the picture above leads off my post.

This past Sunday, I got up and put on corduroys, a decent shirt, a tie, and a vest because it was Sunday. The only church service to which I was headed was on Facebook, so I needn’t have bothered. Cooler temps in Louisville these days could have seen me in jeans and a sweatshirt, or sweatpants and several nondescript loose garments piled on my frame, but I chose to dress up. I even put on my best shoes, those I’ve had for almost a year. They aren’t even broken in yet because they sit in my closet, along with my other “grown-up” clothes.

But dressing up became a treat, Sunday, though the only place I went was St. Paul’s parking lot to pick up drive-by Communion. However, I had dressed like I was going somewhere, and it lifted my mood. That feeling reminded me of advice I gave to writing students long ago: when you write, make yourself think of going to work. Dress for it. Wear hard shoes that you need to polish. Comb—or in my case, trim—the hair and beard. Keep to a schedule, a time to start and stop. Take breaks because you are owed them, but get back to work—on anything.

With the stresses of election season in this time of deep, often inexplicable, divisions between people of different political parties, I am reminded how much of our commitment to the jobs we have taken on, around the home or in the community, can give us a way to settle into the sacredness of the ordinary, where we can concentrate on the thing to do now. I find that coming to the keyboard dressed like I am going to meet my agent, say, reminds me of what I can do to live in to the purpose I have.

I have already voted, my morning chores are done, and later, I will venture out to buy some groceries. But now, dressed for work, I am at the keyboard for the next several hours, making revisions to “The Ghosts of Savannah,” and trying to focus on just what I can do. Later, I will await the election results from the Associate Press and pray for peace, knowing I have done what I could. Tomorrow? Well, I have lots of ties and several vests, and I will get up again and dress for purpose. I hope to find some measure of peace and quiet in the sacredness of what I’m given to do.

One thought on ““Dress for Purpose, not Success.”

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  1. Nice thoughts. It makes me think of Liturgy of the Ordinary. You really did a great job.

    On Tue, Nov 3, 2020 at 9:21 AM MJ Downing’s Place wrote:

    > M.J. Downing posted: ” M.J. Downing I could be writing this while wearing > pajamas—maybe with a cowboy hat. Believe me when I say that I look > ridiculous in a cowboy hat, too. Or, I could be in my kilt, sweater, and > Glengarry jacket, like Doctor Watson at the end of “Werewo” >

    Like

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