First off, I want express my admiration for all those writers of columns in newspapers, magazines, and TV news who manage to write something pithy almost every day. And I also want to express admiration for any bloggers, few though they may be, who can blog a bit everyday. It’s amazing that they can do that, especially considering I wish I could do that but I struggle to write even one post in a week, and rarely on the same day each week.
I wanted to write a post every Monday or Tuesday, but most days life gets in the way. For instance, the local and national weather services have been forecasting a huge storm to hit the West Coast. It’s as strong as any tropical storm slamming into the Gulf and East Coasts, and dumping quite a bit of rain on the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. So, on Tuesday I joined a friend in a nearby city cleaning off the pine-needle and leaf-covered roof of our church and cleaning up the huge parking lot of leaves, needles and dust that plug up the drains for that lot. This took long hours and covered us both in layers of dust,
Then on Wednesday, my wife and I went out to my Dad’s place in the countryside to mow his lawn and clean off his roof. He’s been having a little trouble with his knees and isn’t quite as stable on his feet as he was just three or four years back. But then, he will be 100 in six weeks and he was driving tractor just five months back. So helping him is not just a wonderful, kind, and loving thing, it’s also a gift for all the gifts of love and kindness he gave me ALL my life. And it’s an honor.
That took all day and included pruning trees, burning leaves, and covering the fire wood piles with tarps. Two days of hard work and preparations for a storm that finally just brushed us by inches, and not inches of water, either. Two days I wanted to write but had other things to attend to.
It’s the way it is. You cannot always do or achieve what you want no matter how much work you put into. In Jurassic Park, Malcolm the Mathematician says, “Life finds a way.” Well, living finds a way of distracting you.
However, distraction is good. To some extent. You see, good writing comes from living life. From doing the things you have to do. From getting things done that need to be done, even if that keeps you from the writing you wish to accomplish. Living life allows you to write better about life.
And after all, whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, songs, or poetry, you’re writing about life. And what makes your writing stale is when you stop living and just keep trying to write about things that you’ve already written about.
Yet we all do that. We paint, we sing, we write about the same stuff over and over again. Sometimes we do it better than other times. We want our voices heard. But saying the same thing over and over again instead of getting out there and experiencing new things, even if those new things are the same old things caught in different ways or at different moments, or with different emotions, saying the same old, same old is still the same old thing. You get bored with it and your audience gets bored with it. And then you audience gets bored with you and moves on to someone who doesn’t bore them.
It’s new ways at looking at things, new ways of being inspired, new ways of finding inspiration, that lead to new ways of saying the same old things. Or better yet, new things to talk about and share.
Here is a good example. Late yesterday afternoon, while my brother was harvesting rice, I took him an afternoon snack. It consisted of two chocolate mousse brownies and a small bottle of milk. He was harvesting a field that bordered by a wide and deep irrigation canal, with a road eight feet above the field on top of one of the canal’s banks.
I drove my SUV along the road and stopped. I let him know I was nearby and watched while he cut his way toward me. I was feeling very slimy and unclean after watching the news earlier of the ever lowering bar of accusations and insults in the latest round of the current presidential contest. The two leaders aren’t just crapping on each other, they’re also crapping on us. And I felt like I had been crapped on.
So, while I waited for my brother to harvest his way to me, I leaned against my parked SUV. I watched my brother cutting rice. I watched another brother chopping rice straw with his tractor and chopper. I watched as a truck brought two trailers for us to put more grain in. I looked across the now empty rice fields stretching a mile to the north, their straw cut just inches above the ground. I felt the wind on my arms, my neck, my face. I saw the white sun poking through high, thin gray clouds. I smelled the freshly-cut rice straw.
I relaxed and concentrated on the world around me, a simple symphony of beauty and peace, of work accomplished and work being accomplished. Of work whose goal is feeding the world. I let myself become one with this moment and I felt clean again and at peace.
One moment that lifted me up and made me whole. I didn’t think about politics anymore or about the future or the world, or even about myself. I just existed. And I existed in peace.
And now I’m writing about it.
Life is what we write about. Whether it’s in fiction or nonfiction, whether it’s in song, with a paint brush, through a camera lens, through dance, in whatever format it is, it’s life. Good or bad, we write about life. And if we want people to listen to us, we have to show them the good, not just the bad.
Live your life and find peace. And happiness, too.
See you out there.