Thursday, February 24, 2011

hoping for hope

The problem with writing, spiritual writing in particular but in many other varieties as well, is that the one who is writing feels compelled to say something of significance or at least build to a strong conclusion, preferably a triumphant one where some question or interior battle—however small—is  resolved or at least pinned down neatly.  "Make as strong a case as possible," my academic advisor counseled me after reading an exceptionally messy draft I had handed over to him, and so I did.

We are faced with several options:

-          Give up.
-          Give in.  Produce less rigorous, less honest, and blander work (that is also much safer). 
-          Work harder.  We can dig deeper, go further, and sleep less to find the time to do good writing, and do it well.

Or here there is another choice: we can always just make stuff up to sound smart (which is kind of what I did for that paper in grad school).

There are about a half dozen drafts for posts sitting around in my "Edit Posts" folder, waiting for to be made suitable for publishing, and about a dozen more in my brain that I haven't gotten around to jotting down in note form to save for later.  I promised some posts about wealth and privilege and Mother Teresa, and when I sit down to type, I just can't seem to get them out. 

The obstacle is not time, but rather confusion.  I want to say something worthwhile and interesting and hopefully meaningful to someone out there, but I also want it to be true. 

I know when something is not true because it leaves me feeling dissatisfied or restless or worse, depressed.  If truth is not accompanied by hope, then it is only incomplete truth.  Like when you realize that you have failed a friend, or perhaps failed to come up with the right words at the right time to comfort said friend.  The realization is painful and you beat up on yourself then spend hours fretting about how you have probably ruined everything and that the relationship will never recover. 

Only after some tears (and maybe a cup of tea), and with some time to think calmly and without so much self-recrimination, do you realize that you haven't seen the whole truth.  The whole truth is that your friend is a good and decent person who loves you and knows that you don't always get it right at first.  And you remember that time three years ago when you really screwed up and then you also remember that even though it might not be patched up immediately, you and she have plenty of time to heal and work things out.  Maybe, if you go back and apologize and try again, the two of you might just end up closer (eventually) because of your mistake.  

The truth is: grace is real.

Hope provides a way forward after getting stuck, and I am sitting here waiting on it.   In the meantime, I may have to pick a theory and go with it, test it out and see how it feels. That's what I did with that thesis paper and it wasn't dishonest, it was just a learning technique: risk being wrong, look (or sound) foolish along the way, write confidently and even arrogantly, hold onto the idea-coattails of others smarter and wiser and then figure stuff out later if/when it doesn't work out.  This also is hope.  It is the confident hope that one day you will learn something, and even if there is no final statement of resolution, the questions can probably serve as conclusions.

Oh and one more thing: a note to self.  Let it go if it you find out you got it wrong.  Don't make the mistake of wrapping yourself up so much that you can't leave it behind and move on.  It may be hard to do, but it's not impossible.

No comments:

Post a Comment