Our Only Work

When I first discovered the joy of reading a book or a poem, or listening to music, or watching a movie or play, or having a story or joke told to me, I felt as if I was taken to a place within me where a light burned. As a writer it is tempting now to look for a word other than “light” because it has been used so often to describe this space within us, but light remains the only word that will do. It remains the only word because this space does indeed burn as only a light can, in bright contrast to a darkness in which we all periodically become lost. Artists – no, anyone, regardless of what they call themselves – are all doing the same work. We are either reminding each other of this light, or despairing over its absence. There is no other real work on earth, because it is all we want. When you are within its glow, you do not want to leave it; and when you are in shadow, you spend all your time seeking the light. There is nothing else.

It is so easy to hate someone locked in shadow. It is easy to think your friend’s shadow might somehow block the sun you have come to love. You desire this light so dearly it is tempting to destroy that which throws a shadow. But darkness cannot be destroyed because it does not exist. It is only the temporary absence of light. In this way, every shadow is a summoning for us to shine our light that much brighter, which serves as a reminder to your friend of what he has forgotten.

I do not consider this work a higher calling. It is immensely practical. I would sooner move to a cardboard box beneath a bridge than live the rest of my days in shadow. To remind another is to remind myself. And if this reminder lights another’s a little brighter, perhaps their flame will be there for me when I have forgotten, as I so often do.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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