You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. My absence has been spurred on by other writing interests, especially one that pays. I’ve filled my evenings with copywriting and marketing, without time to reflect on the finer things.
That’s not true. Maybe a couple of days I’ve had so much writing to do that I couldn’t reflect, but most of the time I’ve simply chosen not to. I’ve written some copy for this freelance job, and take the rest of my evening to watch television or surf the internet. Or read. I have been doing that. I do not, however, believe that many of us don’t have time to do what we value — we almost always have time. It’s just, we may not have the energy, or the priority, to make it happen.
So it has been with creative writing.
The problem becomes clear if you know what creative writing means to me. It’s not a hobby, something to do on the weekends. It’s not even a passion — something I deeply enjoy. It’s something I have to do. You see, I get plaque built up inside me — inside my thoughts and inside my soul — all day long. I write to rid myself of the plaque. I write like I pray: to connect with something deeper, to see the world rightly, to change myself, and somehow, to change the world around me.
When I don’t write, the plaque builds. Or, when I don’t write without an agenda, simply for the act of writing.
Take last Saturday. Brooke was at work all day, and I watched Ellis. I made her a breakfast of scrambled eggs, then we took a walk. We walked for a long time — almost an hour. I pushed her in the stroller and she sang; she insisted on holding three sticks. It was enjoyable. Mindless. Walks are wonderful, but walks are not face-to-face. There are times on walks when you can tune out, watch the houses and the trees, forget that you are thinking. I suppose walks are nice this way, but they do not require great engagement.
After walking, I turned on a movie and fed Ellis lunch. We watched the movie together. I checked sports news on my phone. She ate a peanut butter and nutella sandwich. We were out of jelly, so it was her lucky day. Again with movies: they do not require engagement. We watched it, and it was fine. Nice, even. But, my Saturday was becoming like all the other days: moment after moment of flitting lightly on the earth.
After Ellis went down for her nap, I read. I read Kierkegaard. He wrote about the absurdity of faith, and how faith always brings us back into the world, into the finite, so we are intensely experiencing every moment. I thought about this. I thought about the walk, the movie. I thought about my last week of writing, of making excuses that I was tired, of refusing to engage.
When Ellis woke up, I declared myself technology free. We engaged. I grabbed a tambourine and we danced around the living room, singing. We played hide-and-go-seek, or at least the two year old version. I hid, and she found me. I crawled on the floor and she tackled me. We laughed. I buried my face in her belly and kissed her, which drives her to hysterics. For an hour and a half, we ran around and played and pretended to sleep (another favorite game) and drank tea (not real) and engaged. This was Kierkegaard at his most hopeful, brought to humility by the intensity of a child.
Saturday I wrote some. Not much, but some. After playing, after Brooke got home and we ate dinner and then Ellis went to bed, I took more time to myself, to rid myself of the plaque. I’m trying to do the same tonight. It is not easy, once I am out of the habit of writing what I want. But, I write because I need to. For some reason, I have been wired in this odd way.
May we all do this most simple and profound thing. I am not talking about just putting away technology, but rather pursuing the here and now. You may need to put away technology to do so. I write so that I can see the here and now, and pursue it clearly. May we all do the same, in front of this computer screen, and whether it means saying a short prayer or calling a friend or turning the whole thing off to play or make a meal or write a song, may we do it.