Saturday, April 01, 2006

What is...

This week I wake up with the following question:
what is my responsibility to share the wisdom and learning I have with
others?
I try to dismiss this question: it assumes I have some wisdom and learning! Tee Hee! How funny, how arrogant! But still, when I take the chalkboard eraser and try to wipe it out, it keeps reappearing, like the birthday candle that won't be blown out and keeps relighting. What do you think about this question? So many questions, so few answers! Please, can you come over tonight for salad and lasagna and to discuss?

10 comments:

Cynthia said...

Well, tell me about your lasagna first. Seriously, I've thought about this a lot, and the arrogance of the question gets to me as well, but then again, I have learned a few things along the way that have had tremendous value to me. It's not that I'm some wise woman (unless counting that you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom), but if what I've learned can make it easier for someone else, don't I have some responsibility to share? Or am I just being pretentious? Is there wine with the lasagna? Should I bring dessert? This conversation could go for awhile.

Paula said...

Lasagna sounds even better than Chinese, and we can talk another four or five hours on this one if you'd like. I'm glad Cynthia's already here--who else is coming? I think it's a question to take seriously--it's important. (As important as accepting the wisdom and learning others have to offer...) I think one way or another we all DO share these things, consciously or not, in the way we lead and live our lives. Example is a pretty strong teacher.

Paula said...

Your "modesty," and Cynthia's, remind me of the conversation we had in front of the mirror. Why do we take seriously, and see beauty in, everyone but ourselves? You, and she, and I, are all wise women. Our live experiences, past and ongoing, have taught us important things, and it's all worth sharing. Isn't that at least part of the point of keeping a blog--to say nothing of the other writing we do? We should not feel compelled to discount our opinions before we offer them. Perhaps that should be the first lesson we think about passing on...by example, non?

Theresa Williams said...

Beth, I have thought a lot about this as well. I have come to the conclusion that "responsibility" is the wrong word for me. I have a responsibility to my children and to my students. But my writing is different. To feel responsibility, for me, is to approach something on an earthly level. My writing is not earthly in the same sense. In fact, it is about transcendence. When I write, I would like to transport someone so that the person is able to recognize their own moment of trancendence when it happens. To me, that is the "wisest" thing we can teach anyone. A great entry.

Paula said...

Tee Hee! Did you see what Theresa said? Who shares more of her wisdom and learning (about writing, on her blog) than she does??

Theresa, dear, I think I know what you mean by the use of that particular word: responsibility. Approaching our writing with an agenda is the surest way to kill it, isn't it? Paralyzes the thought process--the creative thought process. But if that is the wrong word, what is the right one?

Also, Beth, in re-reading your entry, you didn't use the words "in our writing." I guess I did. Is it what you meant, or did you have something else in mind?

This lasagna is lovely. Did you use your own sauce? Mmm.

Oh, and how do you all like my new picture? I always thought the other was going to be temporary, but I grew to like the concept of "three" contained within it (wink to Theresa--oh wait, wink to Cynthia too; she wrote a poem entry recently related to threes) and then, you know, there is always the problem of trying to find one you're satisfied with...you wrote a whole entry already on pictures, though, didn't you, sweet Beth? Could you pass the salad?

V said...

Man, that`s Great Italian!
In answer to your question, I`ve been posting some serious thoughts lately. I`m not sure if it`s responsibilty but Theresa sort of pushes you that way!
LOL
V

Theresa Williams said...

Okay, back to responsibility. I knew as I was writing my entry that Beth didn't say "in our writing." I guess I took it that way because that's the sort of conversation you and I are likely to have, Beth. What is this writing thing all about, anyway? We are constantly struggling with that. What I wanted to say was that when it comes to writing, I don't think I believe anymore that I have a responsibility to write or to say certain things. Not even that I have a certain wisdom. In Alexie's LONE RANGER AND TONTO, Thomas says his stories might or might not change the world. "It doesn't matter," he says, "as long as I keep telling my stories." That's where I am. I just need to tell my stories. I just want to be a part of the conversation. I was silent and afraid for so long. Now, I just want to talk (write). Joseph Campbell says in POWER OF MYTH that everything you do is evil for somebody. You know? I save money at Wal*Mart but some child was chained to a loom to weave the cloth used to make the dress I bought cheaply. You just have to do the best you can. "Responsibility" is a guardian tendency we all have. I am a responsible citizen. I pay my taxes. I recycle. I obey laws. I am a responsible mother. I work so I can leave something behind for my children when I'm gone. I help them when I can, with money or food. I am responsible in my job. I give the students what I think I'm paid to do. BUT with my art and my writing, I don't come to it out of responsibility. If it's true what Butler says, that writing comes from where you dream, then responsibility doesn't fit. I love this topic, Beth. Once I said responsibility in relation to writing, and a fellow blogger brought it to my attention. I thought about it a lot. I think I'm getting a handle on it. I'd love to see a follow-up from you about what you think. Love to you.

Erin said...

What an interesting discussion! Beth, I love this train of thought. Theresa, I love your comments on transcendence, and also on responsibility.

I think it is very important for me to remember that writing and creation is not a "responsibility". For me, the word "responsibility" brings to mind a very stringent, to-do-list driven idea. For a long time I would write things on my to-do list such as "write for 30 minutes" or "make entry in journal", and those stringent rules killed part of the process for me.

I do understand, though, what Beth says when she talks about a responsility to share what we've learned. With or without a responsibility, I think we certainly have a tendency to do just that. Perhaps it's how we share that is important. As Paula said, example is a strong teacher. I also think that it's often best to teach in a way that the object of your wisdom doesn't know they're learning. (Until later.) :-)

Paul said...

Given a choice between someone else's wisdom and lasagna, I invaribly choose the the lasagna. It's foolproof, tangible, and comes with sauce and cheese.

Gannet Girl said...

I'm coming late to this party, so I will bring the chocolate ice cream for breakfast.

Last night I had a long talk (over margaritas) with a good friend, and realized during and after that sometimes the best sharing of wisdom comes when two people who each have their own experience of a similar path of loss and heartbreak are able to illuminate it for one another.