I hate not doing anything. Oftentimes, I project this expectation onto others; I don't understand television personalities. They talk while others do.
Perhaps it's because Theodore Roosevelt's rousing 'Citizenship in a Republic' speech comes to mind whenever I think about the complementing natures of action and passivity.
‘Man in the Arena’
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arenaTheodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic”
I always wanted to be a talker and not a doer. Roosevelt’s speech is a call to action; it is a reminder that it is better to try than be motionless on the sidelines. We should never listen to those who ridicule us for trying, because we have earned a luster they are still searching for.
Now I have my own blog, and I have a platform to speak and be heard. In many ways, I wonder if I'm what Roosevelt cautioned against - what separates me from television personalities? I share my experiences, and I share my viewpoints here. In fairness to television personalities, speaking honestly is a courageous act.
My resistance to admitting honest speech is worthwhile form of action stems from my belief that sharing my life online is presumptuous. It feels like I'm saying my experiences are more important than others. I know people construct fake versions of themselves on social media, so I asked myself what differrentiates my blog from my Instagram account. The answer is resoundingly simple - because I share my most honest self here.
Why I Write
I have two points about why I write. Paul Graham has an excellent essay called “How to Write Usefully” in which he writes
[useful writing] tells people something important . . . sometimes it means telling them they knew unconsciously but had never put into wordsPaul Graham, “How to Write Usefully”
As a writer and now a blogger, I can write usefully by putting into words my own experiences in a way that articulates how other people feel. I wonder how many people feel like passive consumers rather than active artists in their own lives. I wonder how they learned to cope. By revealing myself to others through writing, hopefully I can reveal them to themselves.
Secondly, I write to harness my own thoughts. I find this practice irreplaceably useful. Dave Chappelle, in a Netflix special where he receives the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, talked about his experience doing comedy. He said
It’s the only time I really feel like myselfDave Chappelle, Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize
When I heard Dave Chappelle say that, I asked myself when in my life do I most feel like myself? There’s over 7 billion people on Earth, but when I write I feel the strength of my uniqueness acutely. The world peels away from me, and I can say with absolute certainty that I understand who I am.
Life is a funny thing, and I sometimes wonder ‘how do I know if I’m doing this right?’ I don’t. But I can write about it, and be aware of it. Sometimes I can even laugh at it. There is no way to do this (life) correctly, but this (writing) is the way I enjoy it the most.
But that’s enough blathering for today. For more on why I decided to start this blog, here is my first post on the importance of creation over consumption.