Intransigent is the best description for our world. Regrettably is a most applicable modifier of that word grouping. Heels are dug in, eyes set, jaws are flexing, and language pejorative in tone; and, all instructive of a deeply felt anger for something: that is much of our world. There must be another path other than one which sets us up for conflict beyond the war of words experienced now; for surely, escalation is inevitable. Our world is being returned to tribes of localized domains, or is it more useful to say demons!
At sixty-eight years of age, I do not consider my life winding down, maybe it is just beginning to rev up; and, maybe my real value or purpose may only be coming into focus: later than never. I have spent more than forty years interpreting other people’s stories as a director and teacher of drama. It is time I begin telling my own stories for those things that most inflame my thoughts and passion. We need myth makers, a Joseph Campbell postulation that I have used on students for years, and should now turn back on the teacher. Stories, I believe, can be so more effective in moderating thought, because we experience through story, not just think. The time to think is after the story. The commonality among all of us – our humanity – is uniquely accessible through story, which can bypass current social and political filters, if done well. Sometimes, those cultural/tribal gatekeepers are so strong that penetrating to humanity becomes difficult. We protect ourselves from distracting or challenging thought by not listening, and burrowing deeper into our prejudice. And, the world is full of competing thought. Still, story may be the only way to sneak past those gatekeepers and awaken the basic humanity we share that knows no color, religion, political affiliation, or class distinction.
I once thought that I would reinvent myself after so many years of teaching and producing theater. Reinventing had a nice contemporary sound, flashy, hip, modern, with it, and all the other hype rampant on the internet. I started a blog, the purpose of which was to reinvent myself as a writer. I began writing about writing. If people could make a living helping when they really had no credentials for helping, then why couldn’t or shouldn’t I write? I quickly ran out of topics to write about concerning reinvention. Surviving and blogging were difficult to juggle. There is a lesson in that, however. Commitment is a hurdle many of us fail to clear on many levels, personal, socially, politically, and intra personally. Divorce is the easiest example. People changing jobs every year another. Nothing begins without commitment; but everything ends without it.
The truth of me may be I was never invented in the first place, so reinventing was… cheesy! Kitschy! This may not be a process of reinventing, so much as a process of discovery, understanding, or awareness. I was also skeptical of all these people making money by offering help in the form of coaching or from their published books. Digging deeper seemed to suggest to me they got rich by selling ways to get rich. They were not applying some learned knowledge gained by becoming successful at something else and extrapolating a method. They got rich offering to help people. There was something inauthentic about their methods. Now, let me make a distinction. I am not critical of people helping other people, far from it. These marketeers on the internet were simply jumping on a self-help craze without any real evidence to suggest they were capable of helping. It is one thing to offer support, quite something else to say let me show you how to do this. I didn’t do it previously, I’m doing it now.
My purpose is to be heard and understood as a voice of reason, moderation, and common sense for the greater good. Our world does not listen. We only understand what we understand, and make little or no effort to widen that knowledge, or embrace a greater breadth of experience. Stories can be an instrument of that purpose since they can become the new myths or guiding beacons for our personal behavior. Myth makers are essential for the mental health of any society. I am beginning to write stories intended to change how we see our world, and how we fail to appreciate the gaps in our understanding, which I believe to be considerable.
To that end, I shall publish at least weekly my current thoughts on my writing, sample chapters, or other relevant information about these topics. If I may use a metaphor, I’m calling these writings A Writer’s Storm. Conflict is the essence of any story, and the story of this journey of mine will surely involve conflict with forces unseen and perhaps only knowable in a limited sense – hence The Writer’s Storm. A storm will cease, at some point, and calm will ensue. I suspect these will be times to enjoy the completion of a project, or the calm may be otherwise known as Writer’s Block!
What conflicts will I encounter in this storm? First, I’m not trained as a creative writer, and I have not been writing creatively for the past thirty years. I have not read a book a week for the past thirty years either. That’s not to say I don’t read. I have long had the desire to write, not the desire to be thought of as a writer, but the authentic desire to be heard and respected, to matter, to be authentic in my passion. The third challenge or conflict is mastery. A secondary goal, I suppose, might be to prove the sages wrong: I can produce valuable work without having written for thirty years, or reading for over thirty years. Ten thousand hours is theoretically the magic number for mastery, or 417 twenty-four hour days, or twelve-hundred and fifty eight-hour days, or 3.4 years of eight-hour days. That’s a steep climb, but I have been writing regularly for 4-5 years, just not in eight-hour chunks of time.
So, there you have it: the forces conspiring to keep me from my goals: 1. Training 2. Experience 3. Mastery. Fairly formidable challenges, I must admit; but, I suspect they might pale in the face of commitment and determination… otherwise known as “will.” Do I have the “will” to say I will and then do?
I invite you to share in this journey, to follow where my passion leads, and to comment on similar or disparate experiences. They will indeed be appreciated by me, and I expect anyone who happens to be on a similar journey.