Strong, lasting relationships are underrated in our society. It’s not uncommon to see young people who like the idea of dating more than they actually like being in a relationship. Why? Because relationships take work. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices—and that’s one aspect of love we don’t like to face.
We like things to be comfortable. Easy. Predictable. All of which relationships aren’t. The minute a challenge arises, or the other person does something to hurt your feelings and you realize they are imperfect, the solution our culture presents is to run away. And that solution works great—if you don’t want anything to last, ever.
This world is noisy. Everywhere, every second, something is happening—and people are talking about it. News channels, YouTube, blogs, and social media blare into our lives at a constant rate. It’s almost as if silence—real, true silence—no longer exists.
Last week I discussed the purpose of beauty: the intrinsic value of the useless pursuit of Wonder and how it fills our spirits. We hunger for it, just as we hunger for peace and quiet in this age of constant noise. But life moves too quickly, it seems, whisking away silence in its crazy storm.
What is the purpose of beauty? Every day, we’re surrounded by a kaleidoscope of enrapturing glory—magic and wonder. Questions and mysteries await us at every turn: the fabric of the universe. But what is the point of it all?
Some would say wonder is a useless pursuit—and perhaps it is, for Wonder in itself does not profit, nor is it incredibly practical. It accomplishes nothing in terms of money or shelter, and yet Wonder touches a deeper part of us: the essence of our nature; our desire to explore, create, and understand. If all we live for is profit, then wonder—beauty—is absolutely and utterly useless. And life is astonishingly empty.
In this culture, we’re okay with living small. We don’t like risks—especially if those risks may end up costing or hurting us. It’s scary to step out too far, so we rarely do. Living small is comfortable.
It’s difficult to break out of the mediocrity of small living: the comfort zone. Yet deep down, we long for more. For adventure. We thirst for a bigger purpose, and so we turn to stories.
Has anyone told you? You are a creative person. A thousand ideas live inside you like diamonds waiting to be unearthed, cut, and set. The act of creating; of exploration and curiosity is the essence of what it means to be human.
The thirst for wonder is engrained deeply within our souls from birth: curiosity at the wide world. And Wonder is the father of all great ideas. In spite of all this, however, we do something crazy. In spite of our innate connection to Wonder, we often feel the need for permission to create.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally started dipping my toes back into the pool of writing fiction. I’m finally developing a story idea into a real book after more than a year of “absent creativity”—and at last, I had a revelation: my creativity hadn’t really been gone; it had merely been asleep, recharging.
When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a novelist. I would sit in my room at my desk for hours, plotting, writing, editing. The “life of a writer” consumed me. This was all I ever wanted: for it to be me, my characters, and my world. And of course, one day, a best-selling novel. But things didn’t quite work out that way.
Stephen King said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” And you know—it’s true. There’s nothing quite like slipping under a warm blanket and losing yourself in a forest of pages; nothing like settling in and inhaling the faint musty smell of timeless thought.
All too often, though, the magic of reading is pushed aside. We get caught up in all sorts of other things, and instead of making time to open a book, we make excuses. Mary McLeod Bethune said that “The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read”, and I wonder if perhaps—by neglecting books, we may be closing that door.