Faith, Art, Joy — A brief explanation

One easy description of the purpose of life is happiness. I think this is absolutely, one-hundred-percent, completely true. But, (there is always a but), I also think that there’s one more level to it. A higher degree of happiness, that only truly comes when you look for it. The kind of happiness that makes you slow down, contemplate, and think, this is why I’m alive.

This kind of happiness is joy.

Furthermore, each one of us is, I believe, entitled to discover for themselves what brings about their own joy.

For me, the first part of joy is faith. This can mean “faith” in the sense of “having faith in something”, and also in the sense of “belonging to a faith”. It’s a versatile word. So in spite of the fact that I’m not intending to write a “religion blog”, the nature of personal writing means that just about anything I write will have at least a trace of spirituality in it. I hope that I can do so in a way that doesn’t cause discomfort to those who don’t feel faith the same way I do.

Secondly, I feel joy through art. Naturally, this is often intertwined with what I call faith, but in some cases it could just as well mean “humanity”. I love art that addresses the feeling of what it means to be human — or, allowing for the existence of non-human intelligence, what it means to be sentient. I am a science-fiction geek, after all. When I see or hear works of art, in any medium, that inspire me to become a better and stronger person, or to understand the realities of the kinds of people that I am not, I consider that art to contain joy.

And I think the world is full of joy, and truth, and beauty, sometimes just waiting to be unearthed.

Bleeding Trees

I read a lovely quote today.

In truth, I read a lot of wonderful quotes. This happens when you’re someone like me, one who eats words and ideas for sustenance and then throws them around into huge piles and files of stories and terms and theories and thoughts, things I might want to think again someday and things I hope I never have to. However, though I am afraid to admit it, I am not always happy with the way I read. How long has it been since I finished a book? Over a year, perhaps. At any one moment I’m reading at least half a dozen, then by the time I try to finish one, I’ve forgotten the beginning, so I find myself starting over. Though it pains me to say it, I skim. I wish I wouldn’t. There are just too many things to read, too many things to see. That’s what I tell myself anyway, while I sit on my bed and wonder why I don’t want to read anything.

In my efforts to make my reading have meaning, which in no way (read: every way) have to with my reborn desire to write a science fiction epic, I found myself looking back at old blogs and publications that I had long neglected to read intently. One of these led me to an essay, one by James Goldberg, a writer whom I have admired for quite a few years now but whom, clearly, I did not understand as well as I thought I had. He writes:

I like to think; I like to talk; I like to dream out loud; I love playing with language with the reckless abandon of a kid whose parents could only afford that one toy. But I hate writing. I hate losing layers of the human and interactive vibrancy of a good conversation as I try to force thoughts into the narrow confines of paper. I hate thinking about how to please a publisher and find an audience you can point to on a demographics chart and maybe someday get my name on a check after I finish marketing a piece. And oh how I hate the pretentious parts of the academic arena of writing—which, unfortunately, seems to be the clearest available economic alternative to mass publication.

Maybe most of all, though, I hate writing because when I write, I often feel as if I am trying to carve wounds into dead trees in the hopes that they will still bleed. Who exactly, I keep asking myself, shall I make them bleed for?

As I write, I wonder whom I write for. “Myself”, comes the obvious answer, but even as I say that I know it is not quite enough. If I write only for myself, the words might as well be put in a secret diary, locked first in a cipher for which only I have the key and then in a safe for which only I have the code. I write to be heard, even if only by the dim whispers of the vast frontier that we call the Internet. When I go about “carving wounds into dead trees”, I do it in the hope that the scars will mean something to someone, though I might not be there to witness the event. I worry that I won’t have an audience, that nobody wants to hear the pseudo-philosophical ramblings of a naïve young woman with a lot of words but not much substance. I worry that I will succumb to pressure to copy another’s voice, in the hopes of attracting an audience that would not otherwise be mine. And then I worry that I worry. Worry and me, we are old friends.

I will write what I like to write, and sometimes I will hope to write what others like to read. If nobody listens, well then, at least it wasn’t for lack of an opportunity. No one can hear words that are not spoken.