“It would be wonderful if I could see the end of civilization during my lifetime.” -Hayao Miyazaki
Last night we watched the documentary about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness; and it’s such a profound distillation of the artist at work. Miyazaki wonders aloud what the point of film is, or animation for that matter.
This past fall, I wondered the same thing. Why write? What difference does it make? The cost of art is so high and the rewards are mostly internal. I mean, where’s the conversation now? It gets harder and harder to remember that we are not alone. Working at a desk, staring at a screen, walking through the neighborhood, thinking thinking thinking.
If anything, I understand less than I used to. I have so little certainty.
But of course that is why we write: wonder. Not just delight. Not just awe. But wonder! To get inside the thing and see as it sees. To climb up, higher than scary, higher than thrilling, higher than safe, and then jump.
I don’t write because I understand. I’m not even sure now that I write TO understand. I think I write because I don’t understand. I am telling myself a story of wonder, a story of discovery and I come to the end with a sense of just getting started.
Or maybe not. Maybe this fall, I forgot that writing is a process, not a product. Maybe I forgot to watch the birds work their way around the yard. The way they uncover the lawn. Investigate, discover, see. What’s in here? Who are you? The adventure of it. I forgot the adventure because I was tired. The funny thing about talking about writing is that you’re just talking about work. About life. About what it costs to be alive.
It costs everything. That’s why we do it. That’s the task. Explore. Feel. Delight. Go on. Go!