Quite frequently, I take the time to really consider why it is I write. It’s useful to do, primarily because it gives me an answer when people ask me why I do it and I don’t want to look like an idiot. Nobody wants to hear and answer that sounds like, “I don’t know, I just do it” though I can never figure out why that’s not a good enough reason. Why do you breathe? It’s a simple question with a simple answer. If you do not, you will die. So writing isn’t a grand production with a grand meaning. I write to give life to thoughts, and if I don’t, they will die.
Perhaps the more timely or resonant question at this stage in my life isn’t so much why I write, but rather why am I not writing? In earlier, more discontented stages of my life, writing was the only thing I could find to do when I had the time. Yet today, I fill my free time with different things. Less creative things, I guess. Things that don’t have quite as much to do with giving life to thoughts.
Part of that is good. Most of it, probably, but I’m not in a rush to really say that quite yet. After all, I’m more content these days, especially in my work life, which leaves me at the end of the day with a vague sense of satisfaction in what I’m doing. I no longer feel like I’m wasting my time when I’m at work. My new (or newer, as it has been a few months now since I started) job has been a bit of a healing touch on my restless spirit. It’s new and still often quite foreign to me, so it still takes some getting used to.
Being more content isn’t really the opposite of being discontented, I’m finding. There is still an itch there. An itch to do more, to be better, to live bigger. An itch to have a bigger impact, better relationships, better lists of three. There is too much work to be done to ever really stop being discontented. There is too much brokenness to ever stop trying to build bridges.
What I find about life at this stage, however, is that I have much less to prove to people. Really, I don’t feel anything to prove. It used to be when I logged onto whatever popular form of social media there was, I was bombarded with messages from people just trying to prove to the 140 character messages they didn’t have real relationships with that they were important. That they mattered. I saw people I knew, good people, just trying so hard to prove something. For the longest time, that frustrated me. I felt the same thing as them. Follow me, please, and please verify my meaning!
Yet now, I look at those same people with a bit of, I don’t know, distance between myself and that feeling. Not from them, really, because I’m still the same insecure work in process and I hope that never changes because I want to have everything in common with these wonderful people and love them as much as possible. But there is a major difference, because I don’t wake up in the morning planning my next big marketing move. I don’t wake up planning the right time to promote a new blog post so it will be wide-spread and far reaching. I don’t care about being so relevant. I don’t care that Saturday is a crappy day to publish a post. I’m still going to put life into the thoughts that are begging for it.
Under it all, though, there are still thoughts that need to have life. There are words to write, videos to make, and stories to tell. The fundamental difference right now than how it might have been in years past where I cared a great deal about living on the internet and not so much really living is this: creation will happen for creation’s sake, not for any other reason.
Sometimes people ask me if I would ever want to write for a living. Of course I would. That’s a stupid question. But sadly, “making a living” is more dependent on making money than anything else. There are many writers out there who will tell you to follow your dreams, and really they do that because their dream is to make money off of telling you that. Good writing, good art, good creation, isn’t super popular these days. Self-help and meaningless affirmation is. Therefore, social media and social promotion are more important than the creation process. Proving your value to everyone around you is bigger than giving life to thoughts.
I don’t want to stop creating. I know a local artist who does really weird, really ridiculous work, and it’s so beautiful. He doesn’t do it so he can make a lot of money. He does it because he has to create. He doesn’t try to prove his worth or value to everyone around him. He does it because he has to. He doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone else. He has everything to prove to himself.
Anything I write, any video I make, any thought I give life to, can’t be done to prove anything to anyone else. They will happen, and God willing, they will happen in abundance. Not because I have to prove my value to anyone by what I do.
I have everything to prove to myself.