6.09.2016

Beyond Blood Sports

With the presidential race essentially ended for 2016, it’s time to put matters like writing in perspective. I am stirred up by a political battle, much as I root for my sports teams. (The Cubs are killing this year, if you’ve noticed.) The fever gets in my blood, makes me stand up and yell at the TV. Yet when the show is over, I return to my study to pick up whatever writing project is waiting. And I am sobered by the feeling that all the cheering and booing at specters on a screen now seem so shallow.

This isn’t an anchorite’s clamor to find a comfty cave. What happens in the wider world matters. Defending freedom of speech, to name just one cause, is vital for any writer. Yet when you stop to take the broad view, you can see that political figures keep parading on and off the stage. They’re all needy sleazeballs, to one degree or another. All sports players are trained animals, to be used and discarded by their owners. Next?

The spectacles are entertaining, worthy of a video clip on social media. We scroll down the wall mindlessly, caught up in the moment. But really, I’m more enthralled by a video of a cute puppy. That’s the level we’re at. Is that the level you want to be at when you’re writing?

I’ve long held the notion that if everyone became an artist, all wars would cease. That belief stems from Leo Tolstoy’s theory of history, that all change at the top starts with a groundswell at the bottom. The individual person searching for a place in the world is what matters. It seems profane to say, sadly out of line, but I don’t care as much when my candidate wins if I have a bad writing day.

It’s not egomania. It’s the nurturing of your soul. By writing, you become a bigger person. You suffer from all of your own deficiencies, using all that time that, on an efficiency scale, is wasted. But you are striving to tap into an inner spirit. That’s what yields the nuggets of text that make you proud. It doesn’t fade with the next screen load. It stays with you as long as you keep trying to become larger than you are.

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
—Vincent van Gogh

Copyright @ 2016, John Paine

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