“The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Jung
The personality of a writer is not without pejorative traits like “solitary drudges” or “painful friends.” We are alone in thought and creation. And we have to be. Steinbeck intimated a need for extraction from society when he said “The writer is charged with exposing our faults and failures.” He and many others thought solitude imperative for the task at hand.
To be apart is compulsory.
This notion of a writer being on the outside suits me. Lured me. I’m introverted, I don’t demand company, and I slip easily into that place of observing, contributing to the consciousness of the world through cold thoughts rather than warm engagement.
But there is a tension there, too. A strain.
All great writers take the human condition, human suffering, and human spirit as their text.
We must explore people, society, you, so deeply, so intimately it can only be done at close range. A close-up composite of things, truth, individuals.
And yet, to coalesce feelings and observations into thoughts and words, we extract ourselves from the very society that feeds our truth in the first place.
We are simultaneously intimate and removed. Always moving, second-guessing our position.
I find it bafflingly difficult, dancing inside and outside of humanity like a manic sprite. It’s enough to tear one apart. Not knowing where to stand, how to be, who to be, and worse, what is truth anyway?
I’ve struggled to solve this. A temporary solution has been to hold my written self apart from my actual self. What I write is me in that it’s what I think and believe, but it’s not me. I don’t bleed into the words, I don’t’ feel them as I type. If you want to discuss something I write, be prepared to do it academically. I can’t engage emotionally. Beloved novelist Margaret Atwood calls this duality a necessary part of the profession.
This has been productive but ruinous. Writer Ellen was thriving at the expense of human Ellen. I didn’t realize the extent until today.
This week, however, something changed.
This election thing happened. I felt nothing. Then I felt everything.
So much pain. Even people who won didn’t win. Won’t win.
Pain is the root of everything. Pain demands love, and when it doesn’t get love, it demands attention. Of any sort. There is so much unseen pain circulating, choking, strangling, expanding…
My job changed today. What I do for a living expanded. I expanded.
I am present, here, now. In my words. I put every possible feeling of love and connection in these words and send them out to each and every one of you.
It is that candle, isn’t it? Holding it up, warming others, offering light. Love and connection.
As a writer, I am not at the edge, on the periphery, I might go there, but I can no longer exist there.
We’re in the middle of it all, living a rich, creative life connected to others. We are so human, so necessary.
And today, so are you. Each of us is a centerpiece of a web that greatly, greatly needs an infusion of love and light. It needs our honesty, vulnerability and compassion. War is the result of unmet needs, at every possible level, the most grandiose and the most intimate.
This is how the world moves forward, hand extended and accepted, one by one, connected.
Writers, me included, are the ones who are always holding out their hands.
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