Writing, like art, is a sacred trust. Don’t rush to be first. Take your time and be the best.
April 21, 2013
The American ethos has never been inclined toward the long view. Like a teenager in an old folks’ home, America has been the icon for youthfulness and immediacy in a world of much older cultures dominated by their enduring, patient histories. This sparky nature of ours most certainly has its upside as is apparent by so much of the world following American trends, values and materiality. But the downside is that when something requires time for its maturation, we’re still inclined to raise it like a hothouse tomato, something that looks good but is largely without texture or taste.painting
It has been this unexplored conditioning to cultivate the biggest, the most, the fastest that is worming its way into the psyche of present-day writers. How many twitter followers do you have? How many likes on your Facebook page? How many books can you write in a year? My feeling is that maybe we need to take a step back, draw a long breath and examine the values to which we’ve been conditioned, to see if there isn’t a better way. I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t want to reach my end days only to realize I traded the pearl of great value for followers, friends, and an impressive number of titles that I’ve authored. Art to me is a sacred trust for it has the capability of carrying the power of the word through time and space, to offer us something redemptive or healing or enlightening. How can quantity nourish us when quality is gone? I can’t speak for you, but Katsushika Hokusai’s unique sense of how to interact with his art from the perspective of the long view seems not only a worthy endeavor but also the promise of a whole and thrilling life. Here are his thoughts:
I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three, I have at last caught every aspect of nature—birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I’m eighty, I will have developed still further, and I will really master the secret at age ninety. When I reach a hundred, my work will be truly sublime, and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be infused.