I want to be engaged. I realized that on my way home from Writing Group the other night. For the sake of clarity, let me say that I am not talking about being engaged to be married. I mean, I wouldn’t mind that, but it’s not what I’m referring to. I want to be engaged with the world. I want to be challenged.
A few nights ago I met with my writing group for the first time. The purpose of the group is to share our writing and, in doing so, work to improve it. A week ago, each of us submitted one of our works to each other for critique. The purpose of our meeting was to talk through the critiques. One by one, we took a piece of writing and highlighted the author’s strengths and weaknesses in that particular piece of writing. For me, hearing what each person liked about mine was so affirming. Hearing what didn’t jive with them, much to my surprise, was also affirming. Those comments felt affirming because everyone in the group had taken the time, both before our meeting and during it, to give feedback, positive and negative, that could only strengthen the power of my words. The process was invigorating. It was exciting. I drank a glass of wine, but I know that the buzz I still felt in my body hours later was from the energy flowing between us at our table.
Earlier that day, I’d had a theological discussion with a friend. We didn’t see eye to eye on the topic we were discussing, but, similar to my Writing Group buzz, my mind was still percolating hours later from our conversation. In fact, the topic is still rolling, floating, bumping around in my brain, hoping to get anchored again for further exploration. Or maybe, like the Higgs boson, it wants to be studied while it’s in full motion. Thoughts do that sometimes.
Within the last week, I’ve had quite a few conversations with friends that have challenged and stretched me in the same way the above two experiences did. Each conversation has challenged me to think more clearly and articulate more precisely what is going on in my brain. These are challenges I need. Anyone who reads my blog knows that there are times when I leave thoughts half-finished. When I talked about blog writing being “rough cuts” a few posts ago, that’s what I was talking about.
The process of blog writing engages me, but what’s missing for me is having someone right there with me to agree or disagree, to ask questions, to engage me in the moment I am trying to process the thoughts. I think that’s why I like the editing process. Someone else is reading and dialoguing with me about what I’ve said. I’m being pushed. I want to be pushed.
Because I like a good push, every few years, I’m drawn to new challenges: from teaching elementary Spanish to high school Spanish (with all boys!) to high school theology to leaving my job to writing to human rights monitoring (still to come). Each change is a push, an opportunity to engage with new people and new experiences in new ways. With each change, Life reveals a little more of its breadth and depth to me. I look forward to seeing what enchants and engages me next. Want to be engaged with me?