We were having a discussion in writer’s group earlier in the week about various modes and means of composition. Now that computers are our primary means of communications and we find ourselves at the keyboard more often than we find ourselves with a notebook, pen in hand our composition style has changed. I am very interested in whether this leads to better writing or worse writing although my instincts tell me that – as is the case with many things – the answer is rather unclear. We can certainly write faster, but whether we write better boils down to how much editing we do. I think that writing with a computer we tend to think that the spellcheck and grammar will fix itself because of the systems that we use to write with. That is a relative upside. It gives us more time to focus on things that matter like words and sentence formation. The downside is that I don’t hink most people use that time to focus on those things. A well written sentence however does carry a much higher upside on the internet than it does anywhere else though. What we write in 140 characters can make someone read what we write or pass on our thoughts to someone else. There’s a treamendous power in that. That also means that the quicker we are with wit and humor the more or writing will have value because those things have a higher reach on social media than virtually anything else. The consensus seems to be that anyone can write a dramatic story, but not everyone can make you laugh. I disagree with that notion as I think it’s far easier to write a snide remark than it is to write something with real substantive flair and meaning.
The difference I see with writing are the same as the differences I see in cultural norms and mores between generations. What I find interesting is where we place value and respect in our own generation and how that is viewed by those who have come before us and those who are coming after us. I once described my family as people who do what they want. This isn’t to say that we don’t care what society thinks of us, rather that we place a higher value on happiness than we do appearance. Someone then pointed out that such an observation may be true of my sister and I, but certainly not of my parents. That was a correct and quite insightful qualification. My parents place an immense amount of value on appearances as did their parents before them. What I grew up thinking was: what does it matter what the world thinks of you if you are not truly happy with the way you live your life? When I ask that question I mean all the little things from where you work to what you do to who you come home to at the end of the day and who you hang out with at night. These four things are so supremely important to our own overall happiness that I cannot imagine jeopardizing even one of them to satisfy any or all of the other three. I believe and I think many in my generation believe that not only can you have it all, but you should have it all, nay you deserve to have it all. What’s the point in living if you settle for less than you really want? Some may argue that this is what seperates the realists from the idealists. I don’t believe we live in a society where we have to choose among those worldviews anymore. I think we can be both realistic and idealistic in pursuing our hopes and dreams without losing moral clarity or our transcendental purpose in life.
A transcendental purpose is the difference that I see when it comes to vocation, attitude, and worldview of those who are living their lives to the fullest right now. Let us clarify what I mean by “living life to the fullest” as this seems to be a stumbling block that gets in the way of clarity in evaluation. Living life to the fullest means embracing your purpose regardless of the real world effects that doing so may have. This may mean being an artist and living in poverty because you believe in your dreams. No matter what you think of such a person they are living their lives in pursuit of their purpose. Many times when we look at someone and whether or not they are successful we look at money, prestige or power. What do any of those things really tell you though? They’re qualifiers. They are things that only matter relative to the society in which they live.
Take away a world that values money and a man like Donald Trump isn’t just worthless he’s the epitome of failure. His failure is moral, ethical and in terms of interactions. Have you ever seen Donald Trump with a friend? I mean someone who seriously would go to Donald Trump for advice or to hang out with? That’s a rather telling sign of a man’s character I think. If you were to strip a man like Bill Gates of his money he would still have his prestige. People would still care what he thought about things. They would still respect his opinion. But, what if we did not value prestige either or power? If the only thing that mattered in life were character then we’d all be screwed. No matter how well you may think you’ve lived your life we’ve all transgressed at some point. No one is perfect, we all agree with that adage for the most part. If we are all equal then only the most sentient beings would be valued. This is where living a life full of purpose comes in. We should value those who have a high amount of sentience just as we should value those who see life as something more than transactional and closer to transcendental. We all want to leave legacies that transcend time, but none of us wants to live a life that is worth that kind of recognition. We don’t build for the sake of building is my point. We build so that what we have built may be recognized and when we work only for recognition we work for all the wrong reasons. We shouldn’t work only because work itself is fulfilling although that should be a strong incentive to work. We should work because we believe that what we’re doing is worthwhile and because we have a commitment to a purpose that is deeply rooted in our own sense of right and wrong.
I write because I believe it is the best way I can contribute to society. You may believe that it would be better for me to dig ditches or work construction or whatever, but that is your belief relative to the world around us. You are assigning a value to me without regard to what is valuable to me. This is saying that your opinion matters more than mine and that your judgment is better than mine and that you understand me better than I understand myself. Such ideas are ludicrous. This is however how we treat a good swath of society. We’re judgmental creatures when you think about it. Gossip and unsubstantiated opinions often hold more weight than facts in many circles, but we believe what we want to believe based on how we were raised, where we are in life and who we choose to associate ourselves with. Were we to remove ourselves from these qualifying factors we may be able to see the world in a more independent and thus more meaningful way. Our goal should be objectivity in all things, but our reality is defined by our experiences, our emotions as well as the thoughts and opinions of those around us. Whether or not we are able to transcend these things depends on our own independence as people and whether we’re able to seperate the will of the many from the will of ourselves. Let’s live our lives so that we are proud of who we are because we do the things we believe in and make the choices in life that better our own sense of purpose. We cannot gain happiness through other people, but only through the understanding that we are doing what we love and giving what we have available to give. Nothing more can be asked of you than to do what your heart longs to do and no one should judge you for following your purpose regardless of the place that leads you to.