Parker Palmer writes, “We teach who we are.” I find this to be entirely true, and I would even develop the statement, to read: We write who we are.
As writers, we write. It’s a necessity. And the act has a way of becoming us. We write our goals, hopes, apologies, love letters, vows and grocery lists. We text, tweet, befriend, commend, and forgive (though we might not forget, because we’ll want to write about it later!). We write at a shout and a whisper; a laugh and a scream. We write out our fears and our desires; we give ourselves over to the page. It is a frightening enterprise, yet we find ourselves doing this, again and again.
Yes, we write. We are storytellers by nature, perhaps from the most primitive times in our human ancestry. We wish to express our truest selves, to record, to amplify, and to pass down our stories and make a mark, in a sense. To whom are we talking? That could be the question, as blogs proliferate… Still, we write for the sheer act of writing itself.
Several years ago, a friend asked me, “Why do you write?” Reasons flickered through my mind, each a plausible explanation, yet not exactly correct. ”I write because it’s there,” was my response, in a vague imitation of Mallory. In truth, there is no one justification for my writing, and my answer was pure and true. I write because it exists, and I exist, and we are one and the same.
I write because now, when I am swimming, I have thoughts that I don’t want to leave to drown at the bottom of the lake.
I write because tonight, biking downhill toward home, the breeze seemed to whisper some thoughts in my ear… and, for the record, the breeze is far more profound!
I write because I’m listening.
There are infinite reasons to write, and to respond to writing.
Everyone can write his/her self. When I teach writing, this is what I want to open up. I want to start a conversation. I want to start a revolution. It begins quietly, with one (sometimes virtual) pen. We write who we are, and that’s both the start and the finish.