Ruminating about the act of writing and the art of writing lately, I find the more I write the more I get drawn into the world world of words.
There’s got to be a middle way with that world as well. It starts with listening intently. Listening attentively. Not believing what is said or written just because it is said or written. Maybe you, dear reader, also notice time and again: a statement is made in speech or mind which you know is not fully ‘it’ the moment it manifests as thought or phrase. In other words, the moment I say something an inner voice already lets me know I could easily state the opposite, equally convinced of it.
For instance, I could argue that education is important and follow Kantian philosophy, and a moment later emphasize the development of one’s natural intuition and follow Rousseau’s teachings. Or I could opt for the use of medicine to alleviate pain and a moment later agree with someone who argues that the body is able to heal itself if you just let it be. Or I could vote for political leaders because it is important to make use of one’s voice every couple of years at least, and then find plausible the arguments of anarchist thinkers who devise strategies for a utopian society marked by non-hierarchical structures and solidarity among its members. The list goes on. Inner voices or partners in dialogue, it makes no difference. The mind has played the game of dualism since the time of its first glimpse of time and it has become so used to identifying with the inner voices that it can’t imagine there could be any other game in town.
Letting these voices become protagonists in a staged drama and watching them rise and fall and create much ado about nothing, that’s what storytelling is about. Writing – an essential part of it – is the act of sharing the living experience inside an ego shell, creating a storyline out of past events. To pull this stunt, it’s vital to listen to one’s inner monologue without identifying with any particular role. Being increasingly aware of undercurrents and premonitions, being conscious of one’s own ambitions and fears, listening to them without owning them, and constructing a scenario by exaggerating enough to get the reader’s attention.
That’s what it boils down to: Create drama. Overdo it. Make it personal. Tell a story. Fix the attention. Stay detached. And then: Solve the puzzle. Find out you’re home. Katharsis.
Wherever you may be, whatever you may do: Remember to listen!
May all beings, far or near, small or big, visible or invisible, human or nonhuman.. may all beings live happily in peace.