Love Thy Enemy

In my estimation, “Love the enemy” is the New Testament aphorism that will lose you the most friends. Yet it is one of my favorites. The entire quote could be paraphrased this way: It’s all well and good to love your brother, but loving your enemy is where the spiritual rubber meets the road.

Which is to say, it’s easy to have compassion for an oil-soaked pelican, not so easy a BP executive who would like this whole mess cleaned up so he, “could have his life back.” But it is the executive where you discover the true depth of compassion. Not that I want to be the guy about which it is said, “If you can have compassion for him, you can have compassion for anyone,” but in this way, he is a gift to us all.

The same holds true for your writing. In his Part 2 of his interview, Gary Zukav describes quite beautifully how growth occurs in that moment when you are feeling the “magnetic pull” of a fearful choice. Thus, writing is great when you’re in the flow, when the story is coming so quickly you feel as if you’re taking dictation, but those days when nothing comes, or where everything you do bother to put down is only going to be thrown away the next day, that’s where you not only learn about writing, but where you truly learn how to live as a writer.

When you spend a workday out of the flow of the story, you must choose kindness and compassion—that is the only way back into the flow of the story. You have written before, you will write again. But if you are cruel to yourself, if you tell yourself a better writer would have found the story that day, or that you will never finish the story, or that everything you have written is no good, then you will come to fear writing itself. You will feel relief when it goes well and despair when it doesn’t. Love and compassion are your only tools when the day’s work brings you nothing. Writers, in this way, must learn above all others to love their enemy, because a writer’s only enemy is himself.

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