My dogs make sure I'm a regular walker, and I've walked so much this past year that I wore holes through my shoe soles and only discovered it when I walked soon after a rain shower.
On those walks, I often converse with myself or ask questions like; why DO I write?
My default state most days is writing since I might write for education, ethics, art, attention, or just a little money on any given day. (I can't go very long without writing, though I can sadly go for a while without writing something good.)
Like Joan Didion*, I concluded that I write to think—not to find out what I think; surely I know what I already think—but to do better thinking.
Staring at the device screen makes me better at thinking. Even thinking about writing makes me better at thinking because to think about writing is to think with logic and clarity. Even if my brain feels captured by a fog, it pays to perservere.
When I've passed through the dense fog and emerged to behold an image of complete clarity, I can write a sentence or paragraph that feels like perfection. I found the exact sequence of words, punctuation, and grammar to express myself with pristine clarity.
That rightness feels so good, like originating an unlikely shot on the golf course. The ball flies away and apart from you, but you feel it in your body, the knowledge of causation. Never mind luck, skill, or free will; you caused that effect—you're alive!
May I profer that writing and golf are similar? Both are craft and immensely challenging. Both can be sublimely rewarding and both can drive you to drink.
I'm not saying that writers must be golfers or vice versa. I doubt many people conquer both artifacts of life. But writers and golfers share the sublime experience of occasionally doing something perfectly or damn near to perfect.
"It is almost banal to say so, yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis," Henry Miller ** wrote as he contemplated humanity's future.
And what then is the role of writers, if not to catalog the impact of change? In fact, if there was no change, there'd be nothing to write about.
And yet it does need to be stressed continually because coursing through us is the fundamental paradox of our humanity: our longing for permanence and certainty amid a universe governed by uncertainty.
That same uncertainty is the source of our existential restlessness and creative fury, to which all our sorrow and art can be traced.
How can someone be a victim of change if they choose to ignore its existence?
Keith Haring***; To be a victim of "living by what you think" is to ignore the possibility of "another way to live," the possibility of "being wrong about the way it is," or ignoring the possibility of "being ignorant of your subconscious thoughts." Haring is beseaching, thinking you know the answer is as dangerous as not thinking about the possibility of no answers.
Writing is creativity, and creativity is a form of candor, fidelity to our shared reality — a simple mechanism of responding to change rather than swatting it away. A way to tackle change bravely and headfirst.
Writing is heroic and entrepreneurial.
Writing is taking a step into the unknown.
*American author Joan Didion's famous line about why she writes—"entirely to find out what I'm thinking."
**In the heat of World War II, Henry Miller (December 26, 1891–June 7, 1980) — voracious reader, masterful letter-writer, champion of combinatorial creativity, one disciplined writer — was living in Beverly Glen, California, and wrestling with the soul-stirring questions that war inevitably brings to the surface. He penned "Of Art and the Future," a wide-ranging essay on war, art, technology, the role of women in society, and mankind's future, eventually published in "Sunday After the War."