So as a former educator I am very familiar with the slogan “knowledge is power.”
It’s certainly a popular notion. If you’re going to vote and be part of a democratic society then you should be informed and educated. However, there is less consensus recently on what people should be informed and educated about. But to me knowledge is a tricky thing. Important? Certainly. But I have met many knowledgeable people in my day, and a great many of them still lack wisdom. And without wisdom what is the point of knowledge? You just know a lot of isolated facts that have no larger meaning, that reveal nothing to you about the mystery of life.
Because to me there are two ways to walk the path of understanding. The first is with humility, where you start seeking knowledge and discover things that result in you gaining wisdom. The second is with pride, where you start seeking knowledge that results in you gaining a superiority complex from what you discovered.
I like to write because it helps me walk the path to understanding, and I hope you know which way I’m striving after, because if you don’t then not only have I failed you, I’ve failed myself.
I admit openly to having a flair for the dramatic (you can’t justify owning the amount of scarves I own without attributing it to my artsy streak) but there are a lot of people like me in this world who call themselves writers. Yet there are so many people who make a bigger deal of it than it is. Heaven help you when you encounter a famous writer. I mean it’s really amazing when people resonate with something you wrote or connect with it in a special way. But you didn’t invent the wheel, you just wrote about it. (Perhaps eloquently, but still).
There is certainly a technique to writing, but overly inflated writers who talk about their craft and their struggles as they condescendingly share their secrets with us ordinary folk who aren’t as successful make me roll my eyes.
You should write when you have something to say. You should write when you’re trying to process something. You should write to chronicle your quest for answers. Your writing should be a reflection of who you are in your soul, the person that not everyone gets to see. You should write because you want to, not to change the world. Not to make money. Not to sell a million copies and become famous. (Although I wouldn’t argue with that as a nice side bonus of being a real writer!) I’m just saying there should be a distinction between people who write because they care about their audience and people who write because they want all the world to know their brilliance.
These days I wouldn’t even argue that a large audience denotes a talented writer (I know people with no discernable talent that still have millions of followers on Twitter) Writing should be something that you do for you, it’s a tool of the heart used to tell a story.
Because stories are perhaps the most perpetually binding aspect of the human experience, we are constantly surrounded by stories. When you write you are merely engaging in the unique revelation of something universal that you have observed about life, a glimpse of the truth revealed to you from the greatest Author of all.
So today I had a really nice sit-down chat with one of the guys on my company’s maintenance staff and he was sharing with me how he was teaching his son how to play drums. He is quite musical himself and plays drums for his church, but his love of music actually started with the guitar when he was around his son’s age, which is why he is so willing to oblige when his son asks him for lessons.
So of course this warranted the purchase of a sweet set of drums for the both of them (he showed me a picture) and it was great to see his face light up while he talked about his passion for music. People with secret passions (within the bounds of moral and civil law) make me so happy. Like, here’s a guy who fixes things for a living and he is quite good at it, but now I can picture him playing music all the time. It’s his outlet, one of the things he enjoys most about living, and he practices regularly and with dedication. Even though he leads a very humble life with his family, I know many more affluent people who would pay to feel like that about something, to have something capture their soul like that. And it was sweet because this man admitted that he’s seen others turning to alcohol, drugs, and things like that but that for him, it’s always been music. And his smile was so sincere I could almost see the halo.
But I wanted to pay a special tribute to the music man, for reminding me on an ordinary Thursday afternoon what life is all about.