Passions, Puzzles and Pipes (S01:E06)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

Lonely Among Us

While transporting two warring races to a peace conference, the Enterprise passes through a seemingly innocuous gas cloud. But crewmember after crewmember start falling prey to blackouts and strange behavior.

The plot of this episode is a standard mystery, and not one of their best. What I got out of this ep was a fleshing out of the ethical landscape of the crew. Picard and Riker are incredulous that the two races on board would fight viciously over “differing customs, god concepts and… economic systems.” They gave me the idea that it was possible to move past tribalistic thinking… though they don’t explain how. Riker mentions to one of them that “humans no longer enslave animals for food purposes”, which may well have been my first ethical examination of dietary issues that are still important to me (I’ve been vegetarian or pescetarian for most of the last 20 years). This is certainly the first mention I’m aware of coming across that suggested there were ethical implications to my food choices.

Two other, interrelated elements of this show would have an effect on my internal landscape and sense of self:

1) At someone’s mention of Sherlock Holmes, Data immerses himself in both study and embodiment of Holmes… complete with pipe, melodramatic vocal cadences and Holmesian catchphrases. It’s the kind of experimentation with selfhood that kids (and, I’d argue, many adults) crave as a healthy part of their development, and it’s something I didn’t really have permission to do in my family of origin. It had a positive effect on me to see such enthusiastic exploration in a “serious” setting like the Enterprise (and further endeared Data to me). Part of what Data seemed to relish was solving a mystery – pushing back against an unknown to see what could be discovered about it.

2) Picard’s deep love for exploration was highlighted here, his sense of scientific curiosity and feelings of wonder at the awe and majesty of the universe. That mirrored the only outlet I had for mysticism in my upbringing: awe at learning about our universe. I was labeled a smart kid and encouraged to do well in school. I had few role models, though, for those that truly loved learning for learning’s sake, as a sacrament. Picard was a model for that.


Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Building (and Bullying) of a Prodigy (S01:E05)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

Where No One Has Gone Before

An engine efficiency expert and his assistant come aboard to test and adjust the warp engines. But when they accidentally transport the Enterprise millions of light years away, the crew must brave an area of space where thoughts easily become reality.

Other important plot points here: In this episode Wesley forges a bond with the engine expert’s assistant, who we come to know as the Traveler. The Traveler is a mysterious being who can alter time and space with his thoughts. The Traveler will remain an important part of Wesley’s journey, and here offers exposition that characterizes Wesley as a kind of Mozart figure, set apart as having a unique gift to offer the galaxy.

ALRIGHT. Let’s talk about Wesley. I’ve been hesitant to do so, because he evokes some strong feelings. but we’re going to have to address this issue. Yes, he is a proxy for the author 2, bordering on a Mary Sue character. Yes, he advanced from not being allowed on the bridge to being a bridge officer in record time. Yes, the writers probably relied on him as a deux es machina device too often by the end of the run. But a) his characterization is not lacking any more than anyone else’s so far, which makes him more of an “identified patient” and scapegoat than a true weak link, and b) more importantly, his character may be “queerest” of the regular crew, thus making him critical to the health of the system. He is:

1) not yet fully indoctrinated into a structure that deeply values control, and is thus more “chaotic” and less trusted for that;
2) his age and lack of experience place him in a position of having little power in the hierarchy, so he is often voiceless, offering observations and insights of value which are frequently (and sometimes gleefully) ignored;
3) he has gifts that befuddle and confuse others, apparently understanding science and math beyond what others his age have mastered; he is othered for this, amongst his peers and colleagues in the show and by many audience members;
4) he’s an awkward teenager, making many of the same mistakes people in growth processes make, which apparently pained both crew and much of the audience, who treated him as a great danger to the quality of the show.3

The Wesley hate hit me hard as a kid. I related to him because of his smarts, his age, his awkwardness and his otherness. Seeing his uncensored joy at being allowed onto the bridge gave me a way to be there vicariously. So hearing about the alt.Wesley.Crusher.die.die.die group and seeing “Shut up Wesley!” t-shirts felt just like brutal bullying to me, and honestly still does4. He was the quintessential, unironic nerd; the central difference between him and the successful nerd characters of, say, The Big Bang Theory today, is that we are meant to laugh both with and at those guys. They know their place in the established social hierarchy, and are willing to be self-depracating. But Wesley wasn’t cool enough to be in on the joke, and didn’t always know his place. The fact that Wesley was a target for so much hate amongst Trek fans made me feel unwelcome in the fandom at the time, and has mirrored other experiences I’d have later of being marginalized further within already marginalized communities (for being bi/omnisexual in gay community, for valuing sex in Christian communities, for valuing spirituality and consent in bdsm communities, etc.) I can’t help but feel that there was a great deal of self-hatred and difference-based shaming fueling the Wesley hate.

The idea that “space, time and thought aren’t as separate as they appear to be” is a secret the Traveler and Wesley share in their exploration here, and they perceive it as a dangerous one. The writers explore the idea that thought is the basis of all reality, and this was my first exposure to it. It’s thematically related to a lot of mind/body dualism that will infuse the series, and I actively reject that kind of thinking, but there was at least a moment here where Picard was practically asking the entire ship to pray for the Traveler. That wouldn’t have registered for me at the time, though this will certainly all add fuel to my explorations of theodicy and magick/prayer just a few years after I watched this.

In this episode’s other news: despite (or because of) no one listening when Wesley had important information to share, this episode ends with him being made an acting ensign and being given bridge duties. We see some fantastical and inspiring new starcapes, making life in space even more alluring to my young self. The Traveler models a wandering lifestyle of the future, apparently living outside any regimented life like Starfleet and hitching rides to bounce around looking for people like Wesley. And once again, Picard gets a chance to focus on the critical importance of controlling our thoughts, when they find themselves capable of conjuring beasts from the Klingon homeworld, deceased aunts, and raging fires.

1. Photo courtesy of
2. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s middle name was Wesley, and he’s on record as saying Wesley was patterned after his own memories of being a kid.
3. At first, I would characterize Wesley as inhabiting a kind of queer space without meaning to. Certainly, at this point, his fondest wish would be to assimilate into his mainstream culture. It is not his intention, at this point in time, to subvert that culture or reject the privileges it promises. The level of intentionality that Wesley brings to his queering actions is a subject that will unfold in more complex ways toward the end of his character’s run on the show.
4. I understand just not liking a character, and I don’t believe there’s anything ethically wrong with just not liking Wesley, or finding elements of him to be poorly written. I don’t believe that run-of-the-mill indifference or annoyance fuels movements like what Wesley hate was, though, and I firmly believe there were some nasty systemic shit going on there.

Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Totally evolved, except for the whole race thing (TW: racist dipshittery) (S01:E03 and S01:E04)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

Code of Honor
The Enterprise makes contact with a new race to receive the desperately needed vaccines they can provide to an epidemic in a nearby system. But when a crewmember is abducted by the alien leader and roped into a fight to the death, Picard must proceed carefully.

The Last Outpost
The Enterprise crew finally meets the much talked about but never seen Ferengi, when their two ships are taken captive by a mysterious power on an alien planet. Members of both crews must confront the remains of a long-dead empire to free their ships.

Each of these episodes had one interesting thing that stood out, amongst stories that were otherwise boring for my young self. In the first, I remember hot chicks fighting in an arena of metal bars and laser lights. 1 In the second, we get a glimpse of Brent Spiner’s talents for physical comedy when Data meets a woven paper “finger trap.” Otherwise, they were skating by on enjoyment I had found in previous shows.

As I watch COH now, I see some appealing characteristics. I see a kickass female security chief doing Aikido 2, I see the female counselor actually providing information of value to the captain, and I see Picard’s diplomacy showcased. I see the first of many new cultures that we’ll meet, and I see a crew centered on intentions to accept and respect this new culture. This is our first look at this crew really grappling with General Order #1 of Starfleet, usually referred to as the Prime Directive: there can be no interference with the internal development of unallied alien civilizations. The implications of the Prime Directive are complex, and we’ll visit them again. But my most visceral response to how it’s presented here is the idea of a whole community built around a particular value. A whole group of people stopped and truly reflected thoughtfully on the question, how do I act from this ethical code? How do I balance my relationships to my friends with my responsibilities to respect this group of strangers and treat them well? That stuck with me.

Past all that, both episodes are PROBLE-FUCKING-MATIC. Each presents a new alien race, and each borrows painfully from our own history with demeaning and destructive stereotypes. In COH, the alien race is comprised entirely of Black actors in harem pants and turbans, with booming voices and exotic accents. Their culture is stereotypically tribal, backwards and devious, and they kidnap a woman to replace the leader’s current wife with her. In TLO, we finally meet the Big New Enemy for the series 4, and they just happen to borrow extensively from grotesque old European stereotypes of Jews: short, swarthy, primate-type creatures with big ears, hook noses and pointy teeth, who are rumored to engage in cannibalism and are only motivated by financial profit. They also manage to raise the bar on deviousness even further than the previous episodes’ Ligonian race. Both groups are named in the show as specifically being unevolved barbarians (AGAIN with conversations about who’s civilized and who’s not). And, with the probable writers’ intention of commenting on treatment of women in various Earth contexts, they BOTH have some icky, icky, ICKY gender stuff going on. Apparently the 24th century is going to be AWESOME for civilized people in the Federation, and absolutely no one else.


I wasn’t capable of seeing this at 13, but it makes me very, very sad to see now. The grand intentions and self-congratulatory moments alongside this kind of racism feels like the most painful limitations and blind spots of a lot of communities of activists I’ve been a part of. It certainly reminds me a lot of this song (which, with the talk intro added in, has its own disconnects as well). This could have only reinforced my own racism and blind spots, and those of other idealistic kids and many adults watching. It was much more difficult then to call a fandom out on problematic behavior than it is now, and I’m grateful at least for that gift the internet brought us.

Unfolding characterizations of crew members were mostly appealing to me. Data and Geordi get to portray the first real moment of their friendship in COH, as Data explores human humor. It’s a bond that will serve the show well, and then and now it makes me all gooey inside. Picard calls for many meetings, suggests a strategic retreat and offers the second surrender in four episodes. While this did not endear him to fans wanting ACTION DAMMIT, I thought it made him look more like a diplomat and explorer, rather than a warrior, and I related to him that much more. Unfortunately, we see Riker turn into a huffy, condescending douche for the duration of TLO, which makes me realize why it took me so long to warm up to him. I suspect, lacking any characterization from the writers, the actor is aiming for a decisive and strong presence at this point, and misses.

1. Yet I really wouldn’t figure out I was omnisexual until ten years later. Yeah, I can’t explain it either.
2. I find it worth noting that this is far more empowering to me now than it was then, as I consider what she’s doing far more accessible to me now at 38 than I thought it was at 13.
3. Picture from Memory Alpha.
4. This was another common complaint that went entirely over my young head (and mostly over my older head): with the Klingons as allies now, we apparently needed a compelling new major enemy race. Because there’s no other way to build narratives?
5. Ferengi image from Memory Alpha. The image on the left is from a bit later historically than what I intended to draw from, but my stomach was already well past done looking for these kind of images. I wanted to include this, though, because I run into a lot of folks unaware of some of the imagery that Western culture has created over the centuries to spread misinformation about people of Jewish descent (hint: it didn’t start with Hitler). The source site for this image posted it not for historical purposes but for its supposed truth, so I really don’t want to link to it or name it here. Contact me if you want the site address.

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

What humans call a wild party (S01:E02)

The introduction to this series can be seen here.

The Naked Now:

A “virus” spreads through the Enterprise crew, the effects of which mimic high levels of intoxication. The crew must regain control before their own poor judgment destroys the ship.

This is a critical, CRITICAL, benchmark episode, for it is here that we learn – through the kickass security chief seducing several men – that the android Data is, in fact, fully functional and anatomically correct (see “Data’s Tango” by Voltaire for a musical exploration of the theme). Hordes of future shippers also get a second big gift in this ep, as the stuffy captain and forward doctor quickly coming to a boil on the sexual tension. I have to say, I enjoyed both storylines at the time. 🙂

We see another woman in a role of power on the ship this time, and a science-based role at that: chief engineer. The binary of women either being their sexual appeal or not having any is mirrored here, though; she’s older, with a dowdier hairstyle, and has no discernible personality. The character didn’t stick around long. I don’t have any suspicions yet that I garnered any empowerment about my femaleness from this show.

While we’re talking about sexuality, this is one of only a handful of episodes with true licentiousness involved… and there is an element of punishment involved in it here. Valuing sex and pleasure over duty is seen as a big part of the dangerous obstacles to overcome. The seductress I admired was certainly feeling shame by the end, and issues of her own consent under the influence were not touched on. In a telling moment, the story ends with the captain voicing the sentiment: “I think we shall end up with a fine crew, if we avoid temptation”; the dyads that coupled or threatened to couple are then held in lingering shots that emphasize the indulged or averted danger. Sex and relationships are here put on a similar plane of danger as Q’s capriciousness, and keeping proper control is quickly becoming a recurring theme in Picard’s personality.

At this point in time, my relationship to the show is far less about their influence on me as role models, as I haven’t yet put them in that role. What I remember more is what’s drawing me in and getting me invested in them, eventually making me want to emulate them. My current self is certain that Picard’s focus on control held great allure for me then, trapped in my wretchedly dysfunctional and capriciously changing environment. I’m less certain what impact the directly sexual elements of Naked Now had for me, honestly, though I doubt the show as a whole did much to enrich my slow-motion sexual development.

But I do know of one other issue that was powerfully capturing my attention. The series powers-that-be received a great deal of criticism for showing this episode so early; we hardly know the characters, so many felt the power of seeing them let loose already was muted. But I connected a lot with the characters this episode. I think the early drunkenness is thematically related to the joy of Data’s presence, and the shift from having an Vulcan on board to having an android. Both the original and Next Generation crews had one primary character that unpacked and commented directly on human nature. In the late 60’s, a Vulcan showed disdain for any signs of being human, and considered human nature a weakness to avoid. In the late 80’s, an android harbored a long-standing wish to be more human. While I love and revere the older, more contented Spock, Data in his innocence and yearning always appealed to me much more. Having this chance to see so much bare innocence and yearning throughout the crew so early was really appealing to me as well. They felt so vulnerable and human.

1. Thanks again, Memory Alpha.

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

In the beginning, there were space jellyfish (pilot/S01:E01)

The introduction to this series can be seen here.

Encounter At Farpoint

Premise: The new crew of the Enterprise-D assembles, and travels to Farpoint Station to find a mystery there. En route, an immensely powerful and capricious entity places the crew on trial for all the savageries of the human race, and challenges them to prove their superiority to their ancestors while solving the Farpoint mystery – or face grave consequences.

One of the great strengths of science fiction is its capacity for social commentary. And the commentary certainly starts quick and thick here, as Picard is explicitly ordered to demonstrate how he is less savage than the human society the viewer finds hirself in. At thirteen, I had already experienced a lot of isolation, because of my own differentness, and because of some harmful mental illness present in my family. At that age I was collecting the earliest observations of what I would later turn into a worldview of linked systemic oppressions and stories of liberation from them. And at that point I felt completely alone in what I was seeing. So, when the protagonists of the show flat out agreed that 20th century patriotism (as one example given by the powerful Q) was something savage and brutal, I began connecting with them quickly.

There’s obviously a new kind of authority on this Enterprise. While Picard wasn’t a popular captain at first, I immediately took to him. He has more for me to admire in him than Kirk’s cowboy style ever did. He’s more diplomatic, more vulnerable, and more willing to reason than Kirk. In this episode, he specifically and repeatedly outsmarts a Loki-type trickster character. And he leads the team that very purposely liberates a strange entity brutally held captive; even without an adult’s understanding of the depth of value of liberation, that’s still a powerful theme from a child’s point of view. (Yes, the entity was a space jellyfish with a cheesy soundtrack behind it. But still!) I immediately admired him as an intelligent, compassionate and ethical man. Granted, Picard was aloof, especially at the start. But even that I could relate to more than Kirk’s brashness and womanizing.

As far as gender issues, what I saw then was a kickass female security chief, a close advisor to the captain that was female, and a female chief medical officer who was the only other person besides the villain who stood her ground thoroughly with the intimidating captain. What I wasn’t consciously aware of but would be influenced by is that fact that all three women are thoroughly normative in their femininity. They’re thin and buxom, mostly thirtyish with delicate features (though Doctor Crusher is the mother of a teenager and is slightly pushing the age envelope). There’s even vague elements of tokenism present, with one of the trio being blond, one brunette, and one a redhead. This episode had one small element of edgy gender-bending in it: an extra in the crew presented as male and wore a uniform that included a short skirt and bare legs (a nearly identical uniform to the one the exotic counselor wears this episode). The designers felt this clothing choice would be a “logical development, given the total equality between the sexes presumed to exist in the 24th century.”1 This one flash of nonconformity added to a sense of home-ness about the series for me, though I wasn’t consciously aware. (That uniform became known as the “space cheerleader look.” It was unpopular with fans and actors and was discontinued after a few episodes.)

In other diversity news, I also saw one major character with a disability: pilot Geordi LaForge was born blind and sees beyond human visual abilities through the use of a prosthetic device. It’s mentioned in this episode that Geordi has constant pain from using it, but I don’t recall them ever exploring the narrative potential of a contributing crew member living with chronic pain. Everyone else is conventionally able-bodied.

Of course, as an adult with anarchist and intersectional leanings, the roots of progressive liberalism in the show – perhaps the roots of my own progressive liberalism – become clear. The limitations I find in progressivism are embedded here; the creators, for example, presume we can and will have progressed past all sexism everywhere (even though it will become clear that they can’t come close to eliminating it in their writing). The complete invisibility of many populations is an issue. As one example, everyone I see – with the exception of the space-dwelling creatures revealed at the end of the episode – has a clear and distinct binary cissexuality. Even the creatures hint at a bonded heterosexual dyad, one colored pink and one blue. While Geordi is biologically blind, his Visor precludes any need for apparent adaptation, and in fact the crew use his special abilities to their advantage much more often than they are confronted with any unique needs on his part. They are still all immersed in a seeing world. Picard speaks of how they are no longer a savage race, eliciting the very imperial dichotomy of the savages and the enlightened ones. This enlightened culture is awash in militarism. As Captain Pike mentioned in the Trek reboot film, Starfleet is “a peacekeeping armada.”3 Authority is top-down, and while some of their values may (or may not) mitigate their imperialism, they are still a privileged culture traversing the universe and playing by their own (benevolent) rules.

1. Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield, The Art of Star Trek, New York : Pocket Books, 1995.
2. Thanks to Memory Alpha for the photo.
3. It’s scientific fact that Star Trek (2009) kicks ass for fan and non-fan alike.

Published in: on May 24, 2012 at 1:05 am  Comments (2)  

Enterprise Theology

Edit: Episode Index here!!

I vividly remember watching the two-hour premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation when I was 13 years old. It was a Wednesday.

I had already begun an emotional investment in the series before that night. My dad had shown me some of the original series and movies; I enjoyed the universe and wanted to see more that wasn’t so “old”. I had also passionately followed news of the developing show long before the first episode aired. Fan mags (I believe my favorite was called Starlog) had been giving us production memos, casting updates and official announcements many months before the show premeired (it was the 1987 version of livetweeting its creation!). I remember first hearing there would be an android in the crew, and that we had made peace with our mortal enemies, the Klingons; one Klingon had even entered Starfleet! I remember taking in the riskiness and newness of the endeavor too. This was long before reboots and multi-series franchises became popular. It was, in fact, ST:TNG that helped blaze that trail. Grafting a new story onto an old one like this hadn’t been tried on this scale in mainstream entertainment before. It was a huge gamble.

I watched the first episode, and every one after it, for seven years. That’s age 13 until age 20 – a profoundly formative time. I fell in love with some characters, overidentified with other characters, and I really couldn’t begin to imagine how very different I might be as a person if I hadn’t adopted Jean-Luc Picard as a powerful role model and surrogate father (a choice I’m still quite thankful to my adolescent self for; my family of origin was an utter mess during my formation, and I could do a lot worse than aim for pleasing Picard). The crew felt like family.

For being a rerun whore, I’ve seen shockingly little of the show since it went off the air. I caught a few reruns perhaps ten years ago now, but at that point in my life I got entirely preoccupied with, well… some quality control hiccups I hadn’t noticed first time around. It’s possible – perhaps just a smidge possible – that there’s some wooden acting here or there. It may be true that a special effect or two might not have come together just right. Aaaand there might be a wrinkle or two in dialogue. Or plot holes the size of your average Klingon Bird of Prey. After 4 or 5 episodes of being distracted by those, my self of ten years ago stopped watching, chalking the series up to a child’s pleasure that didn’t hold up well. It felt a lot like how my honey describes his experience of the A-Team.

But I stumbled onto the show again just a couple of months ago (thank you, BBC America!). And what I’m struck by this time is the show’s heart, and what hidden gifts it gave me. I’ve been amazed by the depth of its reflections of my own journey and my own ethics over the years. I see just how formative the show was for me, how profoundly it has shaped my theology and politics. Some influences I have eventually rejected, but others are still there, as important anchor points.

I would really like to know more about how this show shaped me.

To that end, I’m about to take a journey. I’ll switch from the seemingly randomly ordered episodes broadcast on a cable channel to a chronological run-through of the whole series (thanks, Netflix!), starting at that fateful Wednesday-night encounter at Farpoint Station. I suspect that I’ll be writing here on the experience, but I don’t expect to focus on the plots, details or quality of the show. I want to explore the memories of my adolescent self, through a lens of narrative theology. I want to unpack the theological problems and social critique presented in the stories, and see how those themes have echoed through my own journey, over the 16 years since the show ended and left an impact on me.

Hopefully some elements of this exploration are compelling to you too, whether you’re a Trekkie, a Trekker, or don’t know a tribble from a tachyon emitter. I believe there are deep commonalities to be found in how our sacred stories can shape each of us. Please join me if you can.

Edit: Episode Index here!!

Further edit: Star Trek: The Next Generation and all images from the series are copyright Paramount Pictures. My footnotes on images serve to highlight multiple fansites and databases of Trek lore. I’m making no money off of this website.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 3:26 am  Leave a Comment  

On(line) Writing

Writing is hard and no one cares if you do it – so YOU have to. – Anne Lamott

My first online presence of any substance was on Livejournal. I poured out unfinished thoughts, portions of growth processes, essays I’d spent hours on, carefully crafted works… and they started conversations. I had a small group of people who also filled pages of their own journals. And we grappled together. It was a group endeavor. We shared content between us, and grew in our respective paths. It was the kind of sustained conversation that allows time for reflection and enrichment.

Those were powerful friendships. One of those online friends eventually became my life partner.

With the dawning of the Twitter era and the domination of Facebook, long-form writing community like that just seemed to dry up. It was like everyone moved out of the neighborhood. I’m on Twitter now, and on Reddit. Being kinky, I’m on the “Facebook” of that scene, Fetlife. And I have some conversation there. And I get something out of using them. But it’s not the same. It’s not just faster-paced and shorter. It’s also lacking the personalization and hospitality that comes from being repeatedly and specifically invited into the truly intimate pages of someone’s life. This new kind of contact has built connections for me, but they’re built more around individual points of agreement or insight, and less around the full contact sports of hugging, grappling and deep listening. It’s the difference between saying hello while you pass someone in a store, and having a long, luxurious cup of hot beverage with them in one of your homes.

So, for a while now, I’ve been keeping a part of myself to myself. Now, I’m certainly not missing from social media. Besides the three I mentioned, I’ve also got a cooking blog and this personal blog, I’m on Fitocracy (the “Facebook” of exercise), I have a mostly dormant sex blog with my honey and there’s probably other things I’m forgetting. But there’s consistently been a part of myself I hold back, even from my own private journals. When I post something to Reddit, for example, it often feels more influenced by the eddies and floes of pop chit-chat rather than my own deeper workings. Without that salon of friends where we could do some real digging together, I lost track of any reason why I’d want to write. I didn’t usually have a reason to spend the time to sort through my thoughts in words. And I didn’t have a reason to post them in “public” when I wasn’t likely to get much feedback. In fact, I actively disliked posting when I wasn’t getting feedback; it felt too much like adding to the noise that we have to ignore for our own sanity, rather than improving on the silence.

But, something’s been stirring a while. Something’s been craving an outlet. I haven’t known what or how, but I’ve felt it.

Today I saw a tweet from Anne Lamott, with the sentiment I quoted above. It’s the third or fourth time I’ve seen her tweet it. And it’s found a string inside of me that strums at the thought. Lamott talks about writing out of a need to write… not out of a desire or even a need to be published, but from experiencing the work of writing itself as a survival mechanism. I think in mourning for a certain kind of community – a certain kind of opportunity – that’s been lost to me, I’ve forgotten how rich the writing itself was. I forgot how important the work of regular writing is to me. I forgot how important it is that I say certain things, regardless of how many hear it.

What we practice is who we become; the spiritual practice of writing is a lifeline for certain parts of me that don’t exist any other way. It also inspires another spiritual practice for me: holding on to hope that those with ears to hear will eventually hear, and as long as there is any possibility that my truth can be of value to someone, it’s worth scribbling on a wall where they might read it.

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 1:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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