This post is part of a series.
The whole reason (whole reason, get it?) that I write in the first place is to … well, there are multiple reasons. Why do we write?
Out of a Need to Be Heard and Validated
I suspect that many of us don’t have a lot of worthy thoughts (I guess you can see my critical nature coming through), but seriously, the sophomoric ramblings of a twenty something (and I am now 50!!) seem banal and self centered to me. Having secured a good wife and kids, I no longer pine about my romantic life, or the vicissitudes of the hormonal single life of my youth.
But still, we all need to be heard and appreciated for our own experiences – after all, we are all, in a sense, in this broken world together, and it makes sense to listen to and encourage one another. But to listen to the whining of first world problems when life is in real peril around the globe gets old. Yes, my suffering is legitimate and deep, but it’s not the whole picture.
I get it. We all feel powerless in light of the powers of the rich and seemingly happy – we all struggle against the coming of old age and death. We’ve all suffered some indignities in our souls, many due to our own decisions, not just the abuses of others who are often as afraid and lost as we are. So complaining seems like a natural part of our estate here.
Some of us really do know how to enjoy and celebrate life – to focus on the good and be thankful and even joyful in spite of this life’s gross imperfections. I admire people like that – at least, the ones that aren’t Pollyannish or faking. But sometimes it feels good to forget our troubles and eat, drink, dance, and sing. And others may like to join us in our escapist reveries.
Some of us have been consciously searching for truth and a fulfilling way to live for decades, and surprisingly, there are truths out there to be found that comfort, heal, and guide. But they don’t come easy. You have to abandon much of what you think is true and put on, as the Buddhists say, a beginner’s mind – one that assumes it knows nothing.
One of the great passages of my life was when I initially exited my Christian faith looking for broader truths. During that period, I stumbled upon A Course in Miracles (ACIM) – as part of it, there are 365 daily exercises. However, the first 10 are all about UN-learning – realizing that you are suffering because your mental model of the world, and of what is true, are off, perhaps way off. And the only way to fix that is to first tell yourself ‘I do not know.’ I started a site for those leaving their faith called Leaving Faith, but never kept it up. It had promise, but… so much to write, so little time!
But as I explored ACIM, yoga, and Buddhism, I strangely found the truths and teachings of the Christian faith compelling and superior in many ways – not that I had not found help in these other traditions, but they all lacked something (as did my Christianity). Yoga itself is not a complete religion, and to do it more deeply, you need to adopt some form of Hinduism. I found Hinduism too complex, with its many demigods and disassociation between the material and the spiritual – it’s as if they are not even connected in Hinduism. Buddhism, though it excelled at self knowledge, confessed its ignorance of God knowledge, to the point where it claims that there is no personal transcendant God. I found that unnatural, though of course, my evaluation is subjective.
In the end, I returned to Christianity with some of the tools I had gathered from these other faiths. Just today, I gave an assent to both yoga and mindfulness meditation as tools for self love and self awareness, two qualities de-emphasized, if not contradicted, by modern Christian teachers.
But back to instruction. As an INTJ personality type, I habitually try to make sense of the world by putting ideas into systems – born systemetizers is what many of us INTJs are. I love to wade out into the depths of ideas and boil them down to comprehensible outlines and summaries. I guess that’s what makes me a successful Business Systems Analyst, as well as teaching Pastor. And of course, all of my instruction is based on what I have found in my searching.
Even if we don’t seem to be directly motivated by a need to be heard, complain, or celebrate or teach, humans seem to want to express themselves creatively – perhaps that is part of what it means to be ‘created in the image of God.’ It reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon with a man sitting in the doctor’s office, and the doctor says “I’m sorry Mr. Johnson, I’m afraid that book is going to have to come out.”
Most of us will go to our graves without having sung our song, and part of daily writing is to get at that song. So let’s keep writing and not die with our music in us, shall we?