“We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don’t know.”
Some time ago, while i was forming a friendship with someone who had a very different belief system from mine, i tried to think of a way to describe an impasse we seemed to be reaching. The result is the following allegorical story. The story isn’t meant to suggest there are *only* two ways, but these two seem to be common.
BOOKLETTE AND IMPRESSA
Two cloud-gazers lie on their backs in a meadow, enjoying the puffy, delightful formations above.
One has a small book with her. It contains writings suggesting how cloud formations are to be interpreted, a record that informs her gazing and inspires her complete confidence. Let’s call her Booklette.
The other relies on no such book, but rather on her own impressions of the ethereal shapes. Only her present encounter with the billowy masses enlivens her thoughts. Let’s call her Impressa.
Lovely wisps of temporary forms suggestive of animals, trees and myriad other things float by.
The two pass the time calling out the forms they see, and they find delight on the rare occasions when they see and name the same form.
Their friendship is tested by what happens when they perceive differing shapes. Wishing for more of the enjoyment of agreeing, each tries to induce the other to see in the clouds what she sees.
I don’t write for a living, but i do write to live.
Corralling my meandering thoughts into coherence (with the lasso of language?) often feels like an act of survival.
I’ve long thought that describing myself as a writer doesn’t really say that much about me. In a similar way to saying i speak a second language, my ability to construct sentences with clarity tells you nothing about the value of what i have to say.
Sure, most writers (and even some non-writers who take the trouble) tend to find the exercise therapeutic. Beyond that, though, the exhilaration of putting contemplations into words arises from the hope that readers will be moved to connect these expressions to their own experience.
I know of writers who are so driven, they say they cannot *not* write. I’m not one of them. For me there is often a substantial distance between an idea and its execution (whether fiction or non-fiction).
A familiar exhortation for writers is, “Write what you know.” Well, here are a few things i have been coming to know lately…
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