So, Are You *Just* a Writer?
He smiled and said the same words a young woman had voiced to me an hour before at Jubilee...
So, are you just a writer?
Neither student meant it for ill. I think the question had another question beneath it, 'Can somebody make a living simply by being a writer?' (The answer is a complicated, 'Well, not really, unless you write full-time for an organization or corporation as part of their paid staff and even then you aren't likely to make much money.') But I smiled and said, 'Yes, I'm just a writer.'
To me, that statement presents a deep personal challenge. It has nothing to do with salary and everything to do with whether I allow myself to embrace a gift that sometimes seems frivolous. Writing, after all, seems much less impressive than organizing monastic living experiences or creating real opportunities for the poor. Yet it is one of the things I do best and feel pleasure through (well, when the writing is done and the interaction around it begins! :)
This is why, of all the things I could have taken from Make the Impossible Possible, I landed on Strickland's bold admission, I have dedicated my life to helping other people, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished along those lines, but you can't really understand me, or what my life has been about, unless you grasp the fact that I didn't do any of it out of 'selflessness', I did it to be 'myself.'
The self Strickland chose to be? An artist, bringing the joy of clay, the peace of the potter's wheel, to down-and-outers. This led to the development of a job-training center, which now offers opportunities in music production, orchid-growing (and selling), culinary arts and pharmaceuticals. But it began with Strickland's passion, his gift.
Sometimes it's hard to envision where our gifts might lead. Surely Strickland didn't foresee the Arts and Training Center that is now an inspiration and life-saver for so many people. He even had moments of great doubt and despair. But something inside him held onto what he loved most and did best. This challenges me, comforts and invites me to say, with head held high...
Yes, I'm just a writer. Yes.
[disclaimer: I'm also a mother, a teacher, an avid cook, an artist, a musician of sorts, a public speaker, a runner, and so on, but I don't seem to have a problem embracing those things... not sure why :) ]
OTHER BOOK CLUB POSTS:
High Calling Blogs Beauty Isn't Poor
Laura's Dream Big
Kids Are Big Business, at The High Calling.org
Mozart's and Others' Signatures, at cafe in Vienna. Photo by J Barkat. Used with permission.