All original written and photographic material on this site is the property of the author, and is not to be used without permission.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is it about Writing?

I rarely have much wisdom to pass on, and what wisdom I do share is an unintentional discovery via a gift of revelation, which could be restated as 'God planted it in my brain and so I thought it'. I do not mean to make God a puppeteer, but to insist on his wisdom being the only wisdom I ever have a part in.

But on the less abstract, let us speak of writing for a moment.
It is beyond a doubt the most theraputic activity I can conceive (excluding singing, which is the verbalization of something written.) It is perhaps too obvious a point to state the following system, but I will state it anyway:
Man lives in chaos, but finds peace in God.
Man discovers God's way of living to be the only fulfilling way of living.
Man discovers that in imitating God's being, he is more himself than at any other time.
Man realizes God creates through his Word, who is a person, his Son.
Man desires to partake in this Word, and to learn from the Son how to be the best man he can be.
Man seeks to imitate the Word, and discovers that though he cannot create or make as God does (which is ex nihilo, from nothing), he can create or make from something. Thus, man speaks words as well.
Man then realizes the power of speaking words, and also writing words. Man can create a reality (false or true) in his words. If he seeks to remain in true words, to say and to write true things, man finds greater understanding and peace with God.

Maybe that is far too complicated for simply saying that in writing, we imitate our Creator, and through that imitation discover more about the authentic truth of what it means to be a human person.

Either way, I cannot resist the opportunity to write something, even when it means nothing at all. It is similar to the moments after a snow fall.
There in your back yard is a vast expanse (or perhaps a small one) covered in unadultered, even and nearly breathless snow. What else could you desire than to immediately go into it for the sake of saying something? Of course, most people will not ever think they are going to romp in the snow to "say" something to the world. Yet, that is my desire. I want to step in the pristine in hopes of taking on some of its magic. I want to lay in the places where no mark has been made, to discover what my mark is. We cannot be the explorers who were able to claim large sections of the earth for their king and country and name it what they pleased. So instead, I will at least know the feeling of discovering something that no one has ever laid eyes on but for myself, and I will be able to know what it is like to stand before it and know if for itself, and be known by it as I am.

That is the freedom of writing. After you have written, you might go back and read over it and think how very stupid you must be. You may, on the other hand, be pleasantly surprised at your intelligence. Perhaps you will not even bother to reread, knowing no one else will be reading it anyway. Yet, varied reactions aside, you have discovered that what is intangible within you (your mind, your heart, your soul) has just made an external and tangible debut! What a thought. You are an artist, in that you have said something.

I always recall Tolkien's The Silmarillion when I dwell on this mystery. He explains the world as being created through music, the sounds calling forth things from nothing. This is a somewhat blatant analogy for the Christian, who has been taught that God created through his Word, but somehow it does make sense to the human heart. We all know that a masterpiece can be made by a composer, as well as an author, or painter or a sculptor. Why? Each takes what is within himself and creates something outside himself that is indelibly marked with his own person. It may be wholly unlike the person or their tastes or even their affinities, but they created it none the less. Long after that person has passed away, others will see it and attempt to deduce what the creator might have been like, or what they were thinking as they worked. So it is with writing. We leave a print of our hearts. It may be wholly different from what the snapshot would reveal even ten minutes later, but as it is, there is a glimpse into our beings that cannot be erased.

I must ponder at the structure of our education. We learn the alphabet, the sounds that accompany the letters and their combinations, the correct spellings of words that do not follow the rules, etc... yet, how often are we told the purpose of the lesson? I cannot recall a teacher sitting us down and explaining that these tools are to be the cornerstones of our educational palaces. No one enforced the need to be able to possess the tools to create the works. I can specifically remember my distaste for alphabetizing words in third grade. Every morning we would have a list to put in order, and even then I was sensible to the idea of "busy work." Only much later in life did I recognize the gift of being able to access systems across so many fields by a simple structure that is nearly universal. Why my teacher did not bother to tell us we would be using this tool for the rest of our lives is beyond me, but I cannot help but ache for the many who do not realize the gift and necessity of language. I am poorly educated compared to the many who can move in and out of multiple languages, in and out of musical notes and the color spectrum and integers and equations, but at least the effectiveness of the gifts I have received will not go wasted.

To write, simply for the sake of saying something, is perhaps silly and even obnoxious. There are many who would turn the nose up at such a use of time. I myself tend to be irritated when I discover I have been speaking for no reason, for no one is listening, and those who are do not care. Yet, there are and will always be times when it is good to speak all the same. It is necessary to sing at times - especially when it is dark, cold, lonely or frightening. Song is the light, the warmth, the companionship and the otherness that is demanded when facing such evils. Just so, it is necessary to write or to speak at times, for we cannot go away from it without having learned something about ourselves, God and life. If nothing else, it is an avenue to humility that will always bring us back to the worship of God, whose Word is life to our senseless and limp voice.