Admirably Absent

I was listening to the writer Robert Holden the other day as he counseled a woman on the nature of love. He pointed out that the ego cannot love. Because the ego is concerned only with what separates each of us and not what connects us, the best the ego can manage is to be impressed. Admiration can sometimes masquerade as love, but it is in many ways the exact opposite of love because it is so utterly conditional. This reminded me of an aspect of the writer/reader relationship. As a writer myself, I cannot help but to admire from time to time another writer’s deft stroke. It is as if I have played tennis all my life and am watching a match between two skilled opponents; there is nothing like attempting and missing a shot oneself to appreciate the focus required in returning certain volleys. So it is with writing. When another writer condenses a particularly complicated idea into one graceful sentence, a part of me stands up and cheers. I know this is not always easy to do. I know how much patience and practice is required to make the abstract appear concrete.

But I can only admire sentences for so long. If as a reader I am not moved, entertained, amused, or inspired I quickly lose interest. I want to love the story I am reading, not admire it, just as I want to love the people I know, not admire them. In fact, if there is one thing I admire most about another person, it is his or her capacity to show and receive love—which, oddly enough, is almost always measured in how little that person requires my admiration.

To move your reader, to amuse your reader, to excite or inspire your reader, is to share what you love. There is no other way to do it. The fact that I might be good at something cannot be shared any more than my voice can be shared. My voice is mine and mine alone. Fortunately, everything I love can be shared. Humor belongs to everyone, excitement and wonder belongs to everyone—and if I am patient, if I am precise with my words, I might just get far enough out of the way to reveal one of those bands of light that connect us all.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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