Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Writing as declaring freedom, recognizing the infinite
At least part of the beauty of unpaid work is that we choose to do it. In the midst of lives driven largely by compulsion, the choice to take on more work simply because we love doing it is an act of liberation.
-Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
I used to charge for everything.
Every word I put down on the page, every article, every paragraph had value that was tied to my bank account, that was all wrapped up in my livelihood. At the time, I thought I couldn’t have an original idea. I assumed that I was the kind of writer who needed a (paid) assignment.
It was in Africa that the ideas first tapped me on the shoulder. Then I turned around and realized there was an ocean behind me and waves and waves and waves of creativity, inspiration, art, ideas, and I discovered what so many artists know: When you dip your toe in, then wade out to your knees then your chest and finally just dive into it, the words grow ever-generous and soon too many are floating by than you could possibly catch. Spilling out your art only increases it. It’s like love — the more souls your heart has to love, the more it increases in love. The more you spend your creativity, whatever that looks like for you, the more creative you become. Soon, you’re drawing buckets from the ocean, laughing that you used to think there could be a shortage, that you thought you needed to store up any of it.
Even so, sometimes it’s not easy to spend myself this way, because my old definitions of value no longer fit. I want to quantify, if not in dollar signs then in some sort of numbers, the work that my little words accomplished that day. But then I read Barbara Brown Taylor and I realize that’s not the point. The truth is that my words exist for themselves, that I’m flying a flag of freedom over here not for people to take notice (though it feels like that sometimes).
Truly, it’s for my own weary soul to recognize her infinity.
What is spent here is never wasted.
I am feeding myself from within, and now there is room for multitudes more words, ideas, revelations.
How could you spend yourself in freedom today?