to write is to make meaning


It isn’t possible for me to ever truly be anything other than a writer. I don’t say that as an admission of fault, but rather, reality. Revelation. To be sure, there are many career titles and pathways that interest me; yet, they all require being tied to some sort of principle indefinitely. I recognize now that is what scares me and makes it all unattainable, unsustainable, impermanent. It would be so purposeful and wonderful to become an activist, or an educator, or any other respectable title; but the political correctness of it all, of having to be right and avoid mistakes, doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t know how to do that, how to not change my mind a million times. I know how to gather knowledge and apply it, certainly--but to what end will I be subjected to this knowledge until it begins to resemble a tether and not an expansion? To what end will the knowledge eventually fall short?

Being a writer is the most blessed of all titles because to be a writer is to be free. It is here between lines and words and spaces and characters and symbols that I can explore what is not yet charted in this particular and exact way. It is always fresh and exciting, even if it’s only the rewriting of a sentence, a different arrangement of similar thoughts and letters, made wholly new. It is here that I can innovate and change my mind and improve--grow without fear of losing myself, my essence, because who I am is an infinite metamorphosis. The only principle I’m tied to in writing is to do the damn thing; not the message, not even the truth (what is fiction, after all?), not a particular interpretation or perspective. No--I must simply write.

You see, if I were an activist, if I made this my identity, and I took a misstep, changed my opinion about something--I’d have to give up my being an activist, or at least that sort of activist, or rearrange my misstep, commit more heartily, double down on my beliefs. What if I no longer believe in what I advocate for? What if I discover and learn so much that my principles change entirely? Or consider perhaps if I were an educator--and eventually, I no longer believe what I teach? How could I help anyone when my mindset no longer matches my subject? No, see there; it’s all too risky, too messy. It’s too defined. In other words, a subject itself, such as science, may be in flux--but to claim a profession in such a subject is to go against the nature of humanity and life and time--to be out of flux. We are not our subjects. We are not a single identity. We cannot remain stagnant and static, though we try by owning these labels and titles.

When someone asks what my five year plan is or what my goal is or what I’m trying to achieve, each of these is the wrong question. How could I ever know what my plan or goal or hope for achievement is, so specifically? Generally speaking, maybe: I wish for meaning. But the path I’ll take for this is uncertain, ever-changing. The idea itself of having a plan is indefinable. How can I plan to be something so solid when my existence is so fluid? And really, what is a plan? What is a goal? What are they both, if not expectations? And what is the use of expectations? A need to control what cannot be controlled? 

I’ll take my chances with writing. Because there is no control, no rigidity with writing--I let the words move me; yes, perhaps there are loose goals, for publication or recognition, though even these are subject to being tossed out in the next breath. For what do they matter, in the end? The only fact I’ve ever been entirely sure of is this: to write is to make meaning. There are a multitude of ways to spell out meaning, after all. How many ways are there of looking at the world, do you think, how many perspectives? Will I ever reach a point of satisfaction, completion? How could I ever say I have a goal if this work is never-ending? Oh, the cruel beauty of it makes my heart so curiously happy.

Kristyn LeeComment