Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fascinating Degeneracy

"I regard monks and poets 
as the best degenerates... 
Both have a finely developed sense 
of the sacred potential in all things; 
both value image and symbol 
over utilitarian purpose or the bottom line; 
they recognize the transformative power 
hiding in the simplest things, 
and it leads them to commit absurd acts: 
the poem! the prayer! what nonsense! 
In a culture that excels at creating artificial, 
tightly controlled environments...
the art of monks and poets is use-less...
remaining out of reach of 
commercial manipulation 
and ideological justification." 
- Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

I am a writer. There is nothing and everything special about that. Yes, it's both. I don't have to win a big award or have my words featured in a magazine to know that I am meant to speak and write down truth. I simply know I have to do this, and I do. That makes me a writer. The sheer number of people claiming that title makes me a drop in the ocean- the "nothing special" of which I speak. The inner burning to tell truth and keep a record of telling truth; the confirmation inside that tells me this is right because it is fulfilling- that is the everything.

Some days I am on fire. I speak words as if they are not even my own, they come from a place so deep within, a sacred place where ideas and dreams and hopes are born. I love these days. It is at these times I do not question my calling. I am walking on the water of my crystal clear life-purpose. On these days, I have no drive to seek affirmation. I just do what I am meant, weaving with the golden threads I am given. My heart speaks to me. Nature speaks to me. Truth speaks to me through the mystery of other dimensions. (You know there are other dimensions, right? We wouldn't ever talk about them or imagine them or get caught up in their stories if they didn't exist- somewhere. But it is a mystery.)

Other days, lots of days- today for instance- (just this morning in fact,) can find me battling a heartless inner critic. Look at all those blogs linked on social media. Which ones do I read? They are all pulling to me and I have to make decisions on which ones, (if any!) I spend my sacred hours. And then I think, oh yeah, this is exactly how my own blog posts look to all my fellow worshipers of The One Click. Cue WE-ARE-ALL-DROPS-IN-THE-OCEAN despair. I look at all the waves lapping around me, and my crystal clear purpose becomes a muddy, churning, vicious sea I must fight not to drown within.

I begin to sink. Slowly. Into the waves. I am a drop and I will not be remembered. The end.

Only it is not really the end, is it? Because I am a writer. A writer writes things. Hey people, my little cartoony drop is waving up from my little oceany spot as the liners cruise by. Hi! You can call me Droppy the Ocean Writer. The BIG BOATS in the sea might laugh. Or smile a pitying smile. And it's okay. I can still be happy being Droppy the Ocean Writer because I am free and nobody can stop the flow of my truth-telling but me. Some of those boats might even wave back and we'll be secret Friendsies even if the boat wouldn't ever allow itself to be associated with such a term. Or even if it would. Friendsies learn not to mind. I mean, listen to yourself say Friendsies. Pretty soon, the insanity comes naturally.

While on the subject of insanity, are you wondering why I quoted what I quoted above? It was my epiphany for today. (If you're not a monk or a poet, insert writer or artist into one of those spots and it will do nicely.) When I begin to look around at the vast sea of writers, bloggers, authors, many with a following much larger than mine, I could say "what's the point?" along with the rest of the make-sense world. Or... I can choose to be a degenerate and commit the absurd act of doing my thing anyway. Even if it doesn't make money. Even if it doesn't make me influential. Even if The Best Mom in the World becomes my only reader.

I do my best work, my very best work, when I am Nobody Important because I am not caring about being Important, I am too busy absurdly splashing ink around into odd little characters that say things that maybe the make-sense world can't use. But the hungry hearts and grief-drifting souls can recognize it as something to fill again what has long stood empty- a life made hollow by the demands of productivity. So, thanks for the occasional wave, big boats. I love you and wouldn't want to do this life without you. But personally, I'd rather be a degenerate.


  1. Like you read my mind. And yes to writing our truth because we must, not because we want to be seen.

  2. Love you. It's hard, but we press on, because we have a purpose, and no one can take that away from us.

  3. Wow, you know how I feel! Only not so much about writing for me as about "arting" :)

  4. Your art is so valuable to me. You have a gift. I am cultivating a love for "arting" even if mine looks like KindergART. (That should totally be a thing.) Don't ever give up what makes you come alive!

  5. I love this. It is so encouraging and we all need encouragement. Love you!

  6. LOVE your last couple of paragraphs. I've discovered the same things about myself. I don't even think I would want to be a Big Time Blogger, so why do I feel bad about not being one??

  7. Exactly. Let's just do what we love. There is joy in being true to ourselves and the things that set our hearts on fire. I admit to loving the occasional wave from The Greats, but whether or not I get There is not as important as being authentic and building into the lives of those around me. When getting There is not my goal, I can focus on the present instead of worrying about the future. (Come to think of it, The Greats probably have their own set of The Greats. It could be a brutal cycle. Which would be its own kind of insanity.) :)

  8. Jamie, I am a novice at writing and blogging, but I have been in this business of tryng to communicat with others for a long time. For years, I wrote musci; operas of all things; operas of people doing civil disobedience and things like that of all things. So I know what it's like to feel like a drop, or even to evaporate before hitting the earth. But this I know: I wouldn't change one thing about my life. I think it was T.S. Elliot who said a poet will never know if there was enough reason to ruin his/her life. But the ruined life is the free life. that is the reward. My best to you. Newell

  9. Oh, that is beautiful. Those words of T.S. Eliot. Thank you so much for sharing them. Yes, I have found much of my freedom through writing, composing music, and investing in ways to help people grow. It is a gift in itself.
    I would never have guessed you were a novice at writing. You seem so natural. I'm glad you are blogging and sharing what you have found to be true in this life. Your words are encouraging. Thank you.


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