I will soon be interviewing Radhanath Swami, who has written an autobiography of his journey from wherever he started to where he is now. Why am I interviewing a Swami? Because he looked interesting. I do not, however, know anything about Hinduism, though I will do a little digging before we chat. But the particulars of his or anyone’s faith are not of much interest to me. I do not mean this as a swipe at organized religion. In fact, I find it unfortunate that the word “faith” has been hijacked within the popular nomenclature to mean formal religion. Everyone, by my count, is a person of faith, in that even the pointiest of scientists must operate within the unknown and have faith that things will work out more or less for the good.
For instance, on Friday I wrote about that formless knowing where all stories begin. Writers know a story is of interest to them before they know what the actual story is going to be. Even if you are the sort of writer that begins with what is known in Hollywood as a “high concept” (Female James Bond; Alien Nanny; Zombie President), these sparkling ideas are not full stories; they are not even the trace of a full story. All we have here, as with any beginning, is a launching point, an attractive direction that the writer believes will lead her somewhere she wishes to go.
What is it but a kind of faith that we are drawing upon as we write these stories? And what interests me most about my fellow human beings is not what they have faith in, but that they have any faith at all. I have always found listening to writers describe their stories a pretty empty experience. Listening to a writer speak honestly about holding the light of a story through the long journey of its conception can be inspiring. Here is everyone’s journey. We are all such beautiful creatures in this way—blessed with these fantastically absorbent and agile brains, but forever innocent as we wander ahead. All that experience can truly teach us is what we cannot know, and that what we call knowing is only a love of creating what we wish to see.