To be or to really be?

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Buzzard drying his wings here in Alabama.

It’s been over a month since the election. And during this time I have questioned myself on more than one occasion: What is my responsibility as a writer?

The only answer that makes any sense to me is simply: to write as much as I can. That is all any of us can do—and should do. W.H. Auden was right to say, “Poetry makes nothing happen.” What we write in the late hours of darkness and cloudy days will lie about on lifeless sheets of paper or in flickering electronic digits. It does nothing. But with time and patience and enduring hope, our words will make it past our desks and into the hands of another human.

And who knows? It may be your romance novel that stirs the heart of a young woman to get a job and help her single mom with the bills. It may be your fantasy novel that arrests the young man’s attention just long enough for him to think about the poor family down the street. It may be, dear writer, that what you write may give another person pause to consider the miraculous beauty just beyond the back door of his home—the vast heavens or the single yellow pansy growing at the bottom of the frosted steps.

And thus, out of nothing comes something.

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Is there hope? What are your thoughts?

 

The blog that inspired this comment of mine is Ruminationville: a gated community for the overthinker. If you get a chance, drop by and check out Leslie’s informative and insightful blog at Ruminationville: a gated community for the overthinker

 

 

36 thoughts on “To be or to really be?

  1. daleydowning

    This is a great way of looking at this, the whole over-reaching topic. Sometimes I wonder, too, if there really is a point (to blogging, to trying to publish longer works, pretty much all of it). But in our darkest moments, how many of us can honestly say that we came across a blog post, an essay, a book, etc. that really gave us what we needed to hear that day? Since the answer is a whole lot of us, you’re right, we need to keep at it, and not lose hope. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 2 people

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  2. Bea dM

    So apt that Bob Dylan was represented at the Nobel Ceremonies by Patti Smith singing “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”. I believe any and all thoughtful people are still grappling with how to deal with the … reality show. For this year-end, I’ve decided to cut down on my voracious appetite for news and focus on blogs, memoirs and humanizing reads. Anyway, thanks for Ruminationville which sounds reflective…

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    1. Paul Post author

      When I first heard that Bob Dylan was to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, I was stunned and then quite satisfied. Dylan’s a poet and his lyrics still resonate with meaning and deep insight into the human condition. I think it’s a good idea to move away from the current “reality show” of politics. (I like that phrase! Thank you) And Thank You for reading and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Bea dM

        Dylan’s a great poet, I’ve been wondering for years why he wasn’t getting a Nobel 🙂 Looking forward to getting a book with the lyrics of his more recent songs, which I have never heard – I’m sure I won’t be disappointed 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Paul Post author

      Very well stated! Thanks Tina for reading. Just as the ancient poet said, “Art is long, but life is short.” I have to say, it’s definitely good to have blogger friends such as yourself.
      Thanks again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

    Good questions and ideas. We are responsible, I feel, as writers to send out our imaginings and ideas and to co-mingle with others’ various offerings. There is the seed of power in the word–and within visual arts and music, dance and theater and film. So much to be explored and shared. Much can and does change our lives if it is there to be found–and we are paying the barest attention. So let’s make things and create worlds and moments and find each other’s humanity to celebrate and ponder. Carry on, Paul! And thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Paul Post author

      I agree with all my heart. We are in a time where “faultfinding” is becoming a way of life. It’s good to know people such as you, Lady G, who introduce a lot of good into the world. Thank you so much!

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      1. Lady G

        Thank you so much Paul 🙂
        I really do prefer to focus on the brighter things in life.
        That said, lately, I have found myself doing more than my share of ‘faultfinding’ and it really bothers me.
        Your post has encouraged me to pause and reorient myself towards goodwill and understanding.
        I thank you for that ☀️

        Like

  4. M. Miles

    Yay! New post!

    The election was devastating for me. Imagine, I woke up beside my Latino husband, curled one of his sweet black curls around my finger, and wondered what kind of world could throw a blanket of prejudice over people as beautiful and eager-to-please as him.

    After a lot of heartache, I came to the conclusion that it is better to focus on people as individuals than to focus on humankind as a whole. As individuals, we do awesome things like train dolphins or write poetry or chisel the David out of a hunk of marble. But as a whole, we have done things like kill over half the Great Barrier Reef, force millions of people into slavery, elect Donald Trump… Honestly, I can’t reconcile the talent and positive-energy I see in individuals with the horror and destruction that rests on the shoulders of humankind as a whole. How has this gap formed? How can it be fixed?

    Literature is one of the places where the gap becomes most evident to me. I love books. I love the ideas that writers put into books and the ideas that readers take out of books. How is it possible that we can fill libraries with books, 90% of which carry messages about the importance of love, forgiveness, tolerance–and still do some of the things that, as a society, we do? I’m really at a loss.

    Sorry for the long (and inconclusive and somewhat hopeless) message; I do believe you’re right in thinking that the written word can touch the hearts of people, inspire them to make kind gestures, and that is a noble pursuit. My fear is that our world’s problems don’t stem from the hearts of people. Maybe they stem from some sort of hive-mind or some social construct which has become far more terrible than the sum of its parts. I would love to know your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for your reply…you can make it as long as you wish! 🙂 But like you I am deeply attached to a person from another culture. Sadako loves to cuddle up and watch movies with “happy endings.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy quite a bit myself. But I know deep in my heart that given any reason, this American culture would turn against her in a second. Sadako works for Daikin, a chemical company here in Decatur, that employs hundreds of Americans, pays them a great salary, wonderful benefits, and sponsors a free ten day trip to Japan for twelve American high school seniors every summer. Daikin is a Japanese company. Japanese chemists fly over here all the time to work with the Americans, and they do so with all the goodness and gentleness and incredible respect that defines the Japanese spirit. Sadako is a translator. So! how does the American bunch at Daikin show their respect? Whoa! They fly the flag at half-mast on Dec 7 and put out a big ass notice: LEST WE FORGET! I was appalled but not shocked. Now, the Japanese don’t flaunt Aug 6 when over 100,00 women and children were killed in Hiroshima from an American atomic blast.

      I truly do not completely understand this culture’s love of war. We revel in it. War movies abound. We can’t get enough of them. War games are top sellers. War paraphernalia: guns, uniforms, toys. We watch video after video of the dog at home running to its master returning from Afghanistan. We call our soldiers, “heroes.” All you have to do is join up and you’re an instant hero. Oh, okay. Teachers aren’t heroes, they’re overpaid people who can’t do anything else.

      And now we have Trump. I have come to the belief that much of the current malaise that has turned this country into an “us vs. them” affair, is fear. Fear of everything. The Bush Administration (Dubya) started the ball rolling with its color coded fear gauge. Fox news ran with it. The enemy is right next door sort of thing. People were warned in airports, still are, to report any “suspicious” looking folks to the police. Black folks are scared of white folks and white folks are scared of Latino folks, and we’re all scared of anybody wearing a turban.

      I thought when Hillary got in, a lot of the Republican horror would finally die out. The hard-line conservatives would finally be defeated. The Christian fundamentalists would be exposed as right wing maniacs. But then what couldn’t happen, did.

      Like you, I don’t know what to think or really what to do, other than to keep on writing. I know my blog on “Purpose” was idealistic, but I was in the mood. To tell the truth, I’m not overly optimistic. Not at all. In fact, I keep thinking, if worst comes to worst, Sadako and I can move to Japan and I’ll write as an ex-pat or a refugee! But for now, hey, I keep on writing, walking the dog, talking with friends, blogging, and trying my best to make sense of a senseless world.

      So, thank you so so much for such a great response, and I truly hope all is well with you and yours down there in Brazil.

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      1. Sha'Tara

        While it is a sad thing to contemplate, if we read the history of the western world we discover very quickly that it is a principally a violent alpha culture, its dominant characteristic to attack and conquer their neighbours, often just over and over again as different emperors, kings or despots take over a country or a region. Western mindset never tires of this killing, nor does it ever sense the need to learn anything from it except that it wants more of it. It is said that people get the rulers they deserve. I think that is inordinately true for western nations. We could call it “the white man’s burden” if we wanted to be sardonic. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has had to bear that burden for much too long. It is difficult for me to imagine the hubris of “the white man” considering that most of his accomplishments are relegated to war mongering, war making, killing, appropriating, subjugating, enslaving and now destroying the planet. Not cool, boys, not cool at all.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. M. Miles

        I had never thought about Pearl Harbor that way. After your lead up with the Japanese attitude, I got a jolt of “oh! that’s unhealthy!” when you unveiled the the “LEST WE FORGET” banner.

        It’s interesting that, as individuals, we are taught to “forgive and forget,” “turn the other cheek,” etc. but as a society we are still flaunting our battle scars.

        There is a lot of fear in our society, and I can understand some of it. The racial fear, however, is truly puzzling to me because it seems like the majority of mass murders are perpetrated by white men. Personally, I feel on edge when I go in a movie theater or a crowded mall (because some loony white guy with automatic weapons could decide to turn us all into target practice), not when I pass a black or Latino or Middle Eastern person on the street.

        Anyway, thank you for the optimistic post. Those moments of optimism are truly important. The day we stop having optimistic moments is the day when hate and terror have truly conquered our society.

        Best to you and Sadako!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sha'Tara

    Like everybody else “here” I like writing. Expressing thoughts. I don’t write to change the world, or even inspire anyone to change anything. I write the world as I see it, for myself. Only then can I be totally honest with my wordy output. Changing things doesn’t come from writing anymore than an IKEA piece of junk comes together by opening up their stupid set-up manuals. Change comes from action. As I have developed the habit of countering those who would drag me into their belief systems: don’t tell me, show me. If you can show me, or if I can show you, then we have something to work with. What I write may be “motivational” or entertaining but if it cannot be activated in 3-D, particularly by the writer, it’s essentially useless. It’s easy to write about love; to describe great scenes of romantic or selfless loving but if I am not loving and compassionate in always action, what good is it? It’s a lie. The creator needs to fill the terrible emptiness between his words and his actions, something that even God never learned to do. Using that terribly bad example, it behooves us to be better.

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. Moushmi Radhanpara

    Hi,
    I think words are certainly powerful, in fact powerful than we assume it to be. It gets deep.
    And as for hope, without hope I cannot survive. It is the sole inspirations and motivation apart from hard work.
    I think that it was an inspirational post and you should certainly think there is hope, now or a bit later.

    Like

    Reply
  7. RobinLK

    “Write as much as you can.” Yes. Write, regardless of who’s reading…. because we just never know. Thanks for reminding us, Paul, and for sharing a fellow blogger’s site. 😊 Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. candyyork

    We stand on the precipice of 2017, but is anyone else half excited to have this year finally be over, and equal parts scared of where 2017 might lead us? Personally, I’m going to be doing everything exactly the way I did before the debacle, but what will be done to us as a whole, has me more than a little worried. I have totally lost faith in “the system” we have and wonder if the powers that be will ever realize we, the little people down here in average income land, would just like adequate healthcare and to live our lives in peace and harmony on a reasonable income. I am praying that by the end of 2017 I will be astounded by how much better life has become for us little people, but sadly, I am not hopeful that this will come true.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Deb

    Oh there is definitely hope! Where there is hope there is faith!! And I have faith that all we write is worthwhile if only to ourselves, when we reflect back upon something we have written and think, wow I wrote that? I do it often and so maybe I will inspire others, how wonderful a gift that is, or I may just inspire me, that’s ok too!! You write wonderful and thoughtful posts Paul, continue doing so. I’ve been so busy with work these past many months that I have not been by as often as I would like but I am always delighted with what I read of yours every time I visit!! So write away. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. sepultura13

    I will continue to write, because it’s something that I enjoy – and even if others can’t stand what I write, or my subject matter! I write for myself, not for others. I have to remind myself of that…sometimes multiple times per day!
    Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend.
    😎

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for reading! Sure thing. I’m getting off to a late start this year… 😦 Still trying to write a new blog…taking forever! Oh well, I’ll keep at and thanks again dear Mary! and Happy New Year to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. The WheatandTares

    It’s so very true. We never know the impact we might have or the lives that might be changed just by one simple stroke of the pen or one moment of reaching out beyond ourselves. Thank you for this wonderful reminder, and thank you for always being so encouraging! Write on, my friend. Write on!
    *I do hope you don’t mind. I have featured your blog on one of my new weekly events called Friday’s Friends. The post is scheduled for Friday, April 7. This will be my “Friday’s Friends #10.” I do hope you will enjoy, and maybe you can catch a few more friends on Fridays. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Pingback: Friday’s Friends #10 | the grizzle grist mill

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