Old Moon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And then there's the question of questions...

The Question Is…

 I believe I was rather a curious child. Now that I’m in my eighth decade, it seems to me that I have hundreds  more questions than I ever did when I was young. Even allowing for all the facts and means of coping that no child is born knowing, now that most of those concerns are taken care ofwell enough, half my waking hours are taken up wondering, Where’s that wisdom that just still being here is supposed to confer? (You see what I mean.)

Too many of those questions seem to spring out of the past and its list of things done and things left undone, in the wording of The Book of Common Prayer. I’m not talking about “what ifs.”  I’m afraid what I mean has more to do with how we might do or react to things at a different stage of our lives than the ones we had reached when it became necessary to meet crises and puzzles and ecstasy head-on.  How much do we fail at or forget to allow to sink in just because we haven’t had enough experience to see in three dimensions or how to judge perspective? 

Now that I’ve developed a kind of habit of rendering into words what swirls around so relentlessly inside my cranium, I come up against another big question. Namely:  if I put the time and effort into expressing all this, what’s the point? 

I’ve discovered one thing that puts me at odds with what used to be the establishment of writing instructors, and that is that there’s no joy in doing all that work for oneself. A writer doesn’t write, darn it, for him or herself; that labor goes to satisfy a reader, or more accurately, many readers. Maybe we don’t expect to make a living at it, much less get rich doing it, but we bother in the hope that there will be a few minds elsewhere that might crack open far enough to let us in, and if they do, that they may enjoy themselves or learn something from what that poor benighted writer tapped out on a keyboard.

The examples of people who have spent even brief lifetimes entertaining and enlightening everyone who could read are daunting and inspiring. One of these nagging questions of mine has to do with whether someone with no credentials known beyond what personal acquaintances have heard, and from nothing much more than general living has any business taking up a pose that might make someone think competition is a motive. Honestly, I know my limitations and respect the expertise of legions not only from the past, but of today. A conversation with one of my college-age grandchildren gives me pause. I learned the meaning of “hubris” even before I was in college.

You’re thinking, “She’s just another wannabe with no chance of a big contract, and she’s just feeling sorry for herself.” Half true. On the other hand, if you suffer from this compulsion to put things on paper, I’d honestly like to find out before my last breath if even a couple of dozen readers are enough to legitimize all this angst, not to mention ink and paper and postage.

On the third hand, sometimes you just do what you gotta do.


Colleen Friesen said...

Well, you reached at least one reader today:) I've been scrolling through your blog, reading post after post, and I want to tell you that I feel a connection from your words to my mind.
I feel like I've been sitting with you and chatting over a cup of coffee.
I like hearing your thoughts and look forward to reading more. I too, spend a lot of hours questioning and wondering and ruminating, which of course, in my case at least, all leads to more writing. I write to find out what I think. I can't remember who I'm paraphrasing but I believe it to be true. Keep doing what you have to do. The readers will appear...

JLC said...

Dear Colleen-
How wonderful to read what you said! Beyond being flattered by the implication that there are readers out there still, you have no idea how wonderful it is to find even one sympathetic ear (or do I mean eye, given the venue where we meet).
Thank you more than I can say without sounding just plain silly.