One day, while forming an argument that creativity does not always have to have a purpose or deeper meaning, I sought out some of nature’s strangest and seemingly purposeless creations, figuring that if nature doesn’t always have a reason behind its creations, maybe we don’t have to, either.
That’s when I came across the sparkle muffin.
The sparkle muffin is a species of peacock spider that can be found in eastern Australia. It was discovered in 2014 by researcher Madeline Girard who gave it that delightful nickname.
I don’t often find spiders cute, but this silly guy, I thought, would help me deliver my point.
Not only does it display bright colors that would rival any peacock, the male spider is quite the dancer. His dancing reminds me of the cartoon frog dancing and singing to “Hello My Baby.’ When he pulls his tail up over his head, he even looks like he’s wearing a colorful top hat.
I shared my findings with four friends over a Facebook Messenger post, and they, too, grew fascinated with the sparkle muffin.
All of us, busy women, were thoroughly distracted from our work and soon tossing around the idea of getting matching sparkle muffin tattoos. The spider is the totem animal of creativity, and so, together with the seeming purposelessness of the sparkle muffin’s silly dance, the message would be about giving ourselves permission to engage in purposeless creativity from time to time.
Why can’t we, we argued while still sharing sparkle muffin tattoo images, create something for no specific purpose?
Why must everything in life be so serious, so purposeful?
I delved into learning more. I soon learned that his dancing is not for entertainment or exercise. It is a courting ritual, designed to get the attention of a discerning female.
Cute! my friends responded when I shared the video. Too bad human males don’t have to do that!
Hee hee, ha, ha, my friends and I laughed.
He must impress the female, the narrators of these videos said. Or he will die trying.
What? I thought. I’m all for women raising the bar on who we get into relationships with, but this was wild.
It turns out that yes, the male does dance to court the female. If he succeeds in impressing her, she will reward him by allowing him to mate with her.
If he doesn’t impress her, she will kill him.
My study suddenly took a shocking, deadly turn.
He wasn’t dancing for joy. He was dancing for his life.
This seemingly purposeless creature with his seemingly purposeless dance certainly does have a purpose: to stay alive long enough to seed new life into the world.
There went my theory about purposeless creation, or at least, as far as the sparkle muffin was concerned.
Perhaps, I thought, even the silliest creative work, the kind we think doesn’t have any deep or lasting meaning, actually does have a purpose. Perhaps everything we do, no matter how seemingly surface or superficial, is courting something—maybe an idea, maybe a relationship.
Maybe the sparkle muffin’s purpose is to remind us, through his attention-grabbing antics, that we are all, truly, dancing, and creating, for our lives.