I believe writers must travel into wilderness and bring back what they find, envelop it in words, and release it into the world. I believe that is their ecological function and without that renewal human culture deteriorates. I believe in the sacredness and the necessity of the art.. –Stephen Harrod Buhner
I once had an acquaintance who derided me for not being into physically adventurous things. Nevermind that I am physically active, was once a competitive swimmer and practiced aikido – if I wasn’t mountain biking or rock climbing or alternately throwing myself down mountains on skis, I was missing out, I was not “edge” enough.
Now, I may not be the most courageous of folks (evidenced by my inability/unwillingness to scathe him with a witty comeback) but as someone who wrings every assumption out through writing, who is willing to go deep and look directly at my life, find what’s at the center and what can be brought back in beautiful form, I have to say that Buhner’s reminder gives me more courage to explore a different wilderness. An equally dangerous one.
I know I hang back even though I try not to. I know I am not doing the daring things that might be possible. But I’m at least willing to stand on the threshold and enter, open-eyed.
I am a practicant of this sacred and necessary art, but I have not earned any right to claim ecological or cultural significance. I understand the importance of bringing a gift back from your journey, something to heal your community, something to nourish those who have nourished you.* Maybe it’s better to not know that, though, because it contributes to “pressure to produce.” Something that makes it less likely that anything will come of a novice’s attempts to to use writing as a spiritual practice.
Quote from: Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life.
* a la Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey