It’s fraught with all manner of narcissistic peril, this composing of an opening blog post: who is the ‘me’ that feels it worth adding my ha’penny-worth to the world’s word-disease? What have I to add, and what will be thought of it?
Oh the pain!…of trying to be original, and knowing it’s all been said before.
Oh the self-consciousness!…of exposing my vulnerable self to the world.
Countless possible beginnings composed and discarded…endless tweaking…a increasingly frightening, paralysing exercise that threatens failure before it’s begun. Then I recall a small but significant epiphany I had a few months ago….
In preparation of a teaching session for the Ignatian course I teach on, I browsed websites from around the world and articles from across the years, wanting to present something original and feeling haunted by the struggle of that. Out of the blue I felt a gentle, kindly and unmistakable inner voice suggest that I was exploring this subject just as had many other people across time and geography, all exploring, wondering and teaching the same thing. I wasn’t doing anything new, and I wouldn’t be saying anything new, but that didn’t matter! I was being curious and enquiring in my own time and space, contributing to the curiosity and enquiring of the universe. I was exploring questions about life and living that people have asked since the beginning of conscious thought, and will be asking long after I have been re-absorbed by the earth. Very likely none of us will find definitive, satisfying answers in our lifetimes, but to be curious and live the questions is to be human.
My current encounter with the ‘originality’ struggle – this opening blog – has taught me something: my self-inflicted pressure to be original (and therefore special) is paralysing and limiting. As long as I believe I need to be original and special, I will remain paralysed, or at least stunted and inauthentic. King Solomon of ancient times proclaimed there was nothing original under the sun, so he clearly ‘got’ this, yet it didn’t prevent him getting out his quill and parchment to have a go at expressing himself, writing of some of the most beautiful poetry and prose the world has known.
There’s an apparent paradox here: an acceptance of ‘unoriginality’ leading to extraordinary ‘originality’. Hmmm…perhaps, until we really ‘get’ that we are much like everyone else, ordinary people on ordinary journeys in the immeasurable and insignificant-making vastness of time and space, we cannot be released into our ‘particularity’ and extra-ordinariness. Alternatively put, until I know that I am simply part of the great song the universe is singing across eternity, I won’t unearth the particular song I was born to sing here and now.
So writing a blog isn’t about being original – phew! It’s about being curious, being human, taking the risk of sharing my song, enjoying a wrestling with the words that best express that.
Then pressing that terrifying ‘Publish’ button!