The Tireless Antennae

I sometimes look upon writing as talking with time to edit. This is partly why writing is so different than, say, composing music. Everyone pretty much has to talk, but not everyone has to make up their own tunes. In this way, we are all practicing to write every day, whether we ever sit down at the keyboard or not. Then again, that time to edit might be exactly what makes writing so challenging for some. When I played football, I sometimes preferred having a defender climbing up my back when a pass was thrown my way, rather than standing alone in the end zone. When I was “covered” (football vernacular for having a defender close by), all my attention went to trying to catch the pass, whereas when I was uncovered, all my attention went to not dropping the pass. In other words, we have to let it rip in conversation, and we are largely forgiving of one another’s dangling tangents or incomplete sentences. Not so much on the page.

I love to talk, but it’s exhausting in a way. I may be tired after writing, but never exhausted. This is the best kind of tired. It’s the end-of-restlessness tired. This is because writing really isn’t talking, truth be told. Neither is talking. Everything is listening. Exhaustion sweeps over us when we forget this – when we write to explain or talk to be heard.

But when we listen, we are allowing ourselves to be fed from that generous, universal vein, the fount of all stories and poems and songs. When we listen, we aren’t overwhelmed by the need to make everything, only pressed to translate what was heard as accurately as possible. I have talked until I lost my voice and felt as if I’ve never been heard, but I have never in my life listened too long or too closely. For this reason I have never fully seen myself as a man of words, nor of stories. I am an antenna with a voice, hoping that what I pass along is as beautiful as what I’ve heard.

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