This is the second writing riff for my blog, and it’s funny how often my riffs become writing about writing. Perhaps funny is not the word. Rather, it’s just an observation, something I notice when I embark on this exercise, but it makes sense. Since I have to produce without stopping, I write about what I am conscious of, which in this instance, is writing. This is why I write about writing.
I am a very self-conscious person, too much for my own good. I used to think that my ability to introspect on deep levels was my super power. I knew myself more than most knew themselves. I was Kierkegaard, and other people seemed so out of touch, not aware of their motives, and the motives behind their motives. Everyone else was blissfully ignorant of how egoism and pride can stain even their best acts. But I knew, and this knowledge gave me insight into myself, others, and even into God. Of course you can’t introspect God. He is beyond us. But I knew my soul and so I thought I knew the terrain that God wanted to inhabit, and I probably thought I could give him a map to my soul.
At some point this all turned on me. What I thought was my strength became my curse. I realized that the self is an abyss, and that my plumb line would never hit bottom. I saw that the self is an unformed reality, an unstable substance, of which I could peel off layer after layer after layer and still go digging trying to find something genuine and real. Fortunately, hope came after a long period of darkness (one that I must admit has not completely lifted) when it struck me that the self is something that can only be understood in relationship. I began to think that maybe God constituted us this way, because he made us for himself, and therefore the essence of who we are as humans, and as individuals, is something deeply embedded in our relationship with him. Consequently, there is no self to discover, at least not in autonomy. Instead, the true self is discovered in God; when we pursue him we find ourselves. In the words of Jesus, when we lose our lives for his sake, we find it.
But all of this started with me being self aware of my writing. Writing can use introspection but it goes beyond it, because it is a way of getting the self out on the page and objectifying it. In writing I walk a high wire over the abyss and in some way it provides a balancing bar that keeps my feet planted. On the other hand, writing is like a net. It allows me to walk and drop a line without fear of falling in. Honestly, I’m not sure how to characterize it, but what I do know is that writing allows me to make connections that I very likely would have not made if I kept it all in my head. This is why I view writing as a gift and a prayer. This my writing riff.