A couple of years ago, I gave up writing. The reasons for my decision are far less important than its consequences.
My friends are serious about their writing. When we communicated regularly, our interactions were typically so hilarious I laughed several times a day as I recalled someone’s brilliant quip. Just as often, I found myself revisiting a particularly lovely phrase, enjoying the combination of words, or the image they conjured.
I miss those interactions. Particularly now, anything that can make me laugh would be welcome. When I stopped writing, I was sure I’d lose touch with these friends, but we are still in contact, albeit less often. We don’t laugh as much as we once did, but no one seems to be laughing, lately.
I’ve read the words of many writers, and recognize those who write do so for a variety of reasons. Some write to entertain, some to educate, others to persuade. Some simply record their observations, leaving judgment to the reader. Others marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds us, and hope to inspire those who don’t. Many of my friends who write do so because it’s essential as breathing; others describe it more amorphously, as “a passion.” A close friend once confided he writes because it helps him understand the world.
Giving up writing wasn’t something I considered carefully. I simply stopped. Admittedly, I thought about writing a lot, just as I still think about skiing, running, dancing, and rock-climbing, since I began relying on a cane to walk. I wouldn’t miss those activities if I hadn’t once enjoyed them all, and I did not give them up willingly.
I don’t understand how some people harbor contempt for those who are less fortunate, and I know it’s senseless to try. I’m certain they’ll continue to draw support from each other, and eventually they’ll simply cut themselves off from anyone with whom they disagree. In my mind, I envision them all occupying a small cramped compartment, where, like the fictional characters who occupied an island in Lord of the Flies, they can govern their self-selected membership as they see fit.
The rest of us, who recognize the inevitability of aging and its effect on our bodies, of unforeseeable accidental injury, of congenital, hereditary, environmental and contagious illnesses, do not need to be presented with statistical or other evidence to be persuaded. We trust our powers of observation and experience and can take some comfort in the recognition that we don’t have to resort to contorted logic to support our opinions.
I’ve learned over time to recognize my own limitations, both physical and intellectual. If I spent every second of the rest of my life trying to understand the world, I couldn’t. I’m glad some continue to try. I need to read their words.