why we write
There is something about the act of writing things down that seems akin to magic.
By that I mean you can describe something, a box for instance, in terms of dimensions or color without upsetting the rational side of yourself. You are merely describing the external world in the most efficient possible terms.
However, the moment you stray from that formula and add anything else you are attempting to organize the 171,476 words that are currently in use in the English language in such a way that you elicit something more than a simple description.
Just think of the almost endless ways I could have used those 171,476 words in the last sentence.
There’s always some magic involved, but how you arrange the words can create something banal or truly transcendent. Something that is passed down for generations. If quantum physics has taught us anything, it’s that even science has things to answer for when thinking about our concept of reality. Maybe good writing is like casting spells.
When we write something down it’s as if we are exploring different levels of the vessel we are moving through time in. The brightly lit thoroughfares and dark corners. Writing is in no way a cure for chaos, but it might let us understand who we’ve been and who we are becoming a little better. Maybe clearer is a better word than better. (171,476 words and I use better twice in the same sentence… obviously my wand is small)
What’s that? Oh, I don’t believe in who we are right now. That person doesn’t exist. There is only the past and the future us. The future being a gift. (I was going to say present, referring to something thoughtfully given, but it might be confusing given that I just said there was no present, relating to the current period of time.) (171,476 words huh? My wand continues to shrink.)
So we scribble down little things or document big things and then we revisit them and revise them and they make us happy or sad, more resolute or more confused. So we write down more stuff. More and more.
And we take our vessels through the storm. The things we write attempting to fix holes and raise sails to get us through.
We’ll live and die and be replaced, just like billions of people before us, and it’s no coincidence that we use the term ‘moved’ when we write something that somehow resonates within is. We’re always moving through time but only occasionally do we actually feel our bow crashing headlong into the waves.
Someone casts a particularly powerful enchantment and magically, long after they are gone, I hear the worlds in my head.
O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
by Walt Whitman
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