Six syllables. One fool-poof, culturally acceptable excuse for putting myself last.
Sound strange? Hear me out …
For nearly a year, I’ve been talking about recommitting to my own writing. I’ve talked about screenplays. Essays. Books. Even this blog. I’ve talked and I’ve talked and I’ve talked. But I haven’t written.
Which is especially strange given the following: I know for a fact the state of peace and happiness I’ll slip into if I sit down at the keyboard and start typing. Stress will fade. Thoughts will animate. Hours will fly by. Writing is more than just something I do. It truly is, in the deepest and most abiding sense, who I am.
So, having said all that, why don’t I write, write, write all the dang time?
Because, silly wabbits, I have responsibilities.
I have bills to pay, work to do, errands to run, calls to return, mouths to feed. And in the world of responsible adults, all those external pulls outrank the internal ones. So, when it comes to allotting the time and energy I have in a given day, somehow, all of my aforementioned responsibilities always trump my writing.
Which, as I’ve been thinking about it, pretty much translates to this: Commitment trumps contentment. Work trumps play. Obligation trumps joy.
Ugh. Read that last bit again. It stinks.
I look at that and think, “Wait, that’s crap.” To which society responds in resounding unison: “Tough luck, kid. That’s life.”
But the thing is, it’s not.
Life is so much bigger than the way we all seem to be living it. It’s not just a series of days we have to plow through, things we have to accomplish or places we have to be. Life is the stuff that makes the days, attracts the things and fills the places.
How can we consider ourselves responsible human beings if we aren’t partaking in the gifts life gives us that makes being human enjoyable?
That question has had me examining the notion of responsibility much more closely…
And, in the immortal words of my favorite Princess Bride character, Inigo Montoya (please read the following in his awesomely strange Spanish-ish accent): I do not think that word means what you think it means…
In fact, with all due respect to you, Mr. Webster, the word happens to define itself:
Responsibility. Response. (to) Ability.
To live a life of responsibility is to live a life that responds to ability.
Given that as a baseline definition, if my God given ability is to write, it seems to me not doing so is actually irresponsible. Suddenly, writing is actually a requirement from the taskmaster previously known as responsibility. It’s how I, Merry Carole Powers, respond to my ability. How I say thank you to life for giving me such a gift. And how I am, in turn, able to open that gift and give back.
When you look at it like that, I have no choice but to write. Now do I think I should do so at the expense of everything else, and let the rest of my life fall apart? Of course not. I still need to uphold order in my life and honor the agreements I’ve made to those who are in it. That’s just common sense. But with this new definition, I can now include myself in that mix that tops the priority list of things that must get done.
If we are going to let the notion of responsibilities claim such a large pillar of authority in our lives, then seems to me we should make it a word that works for us, not against us.
Take, for example, the first synonym that comes up for responsibility on thesaurus.com: Albatross. I think it’s a safe assumption that entry refers to the idiom, “There is an albatross around his neck.” Which basically says responsibility is equivalent to a heavy burden that must be carried.
But might I point out, especially in light of today’s redefining of the word, that an albatross is a bird. A symbol of freedom. A creature designed to take flight, and specifically known for its ability to remain aloft for a long time.
From that perspective, instead of burdening us, shouldn’t living responsibly allow us to spread our wings, take flight, and find the kind of freedom that enjoying life brings?
Why let responsibility be a burden we carry through life when, instead, it can be a vehicle by which we can fly. And, with a little luck, remain aloft for long periods of time.
Say it with me, people: “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”