Ego and Engagement

Last night, I went to a reading and workshop given by Colorado Poet Laureate, David Mason, at the Longmont Library.  I’ve heard him speak twice now and have been impressed by his approachability and warmth.  Both times he began his talk by having the group responsively recite an old Mother Goose poem, which nicely demystifies poetry as a primary impulse, and creates a sense of camaraderie in the room.

I go to these kind of lectures and writing workshops as a tune-up, opportunities to think about the task of writing for a few minutes or hours, and maybe come home with enough of a spark in my belly to write something new.  Usually, I don’t say much at lectures, don’t want to tell my story or draw attention, but Mason said some things last night that encouraged me to raise my hand and interact, to share the hastily scribbled free-write that we all produced in the workshop.  He talked about the way that our Ego gets in the way of words making it on to the page.  Both the feeling of “wow, this is so great, I can’t believe I’m this awesome,” and the feeling of, “I’m terrible, who would want to listen to what I have to say?” are detrimental.  They prevent us from attending to the words themselves or steer us off track.

So I spoke up. Asked a few questions. Engaged.

Engaging with writing, with words, has been difficult for me in recent years.  In the age of Twitter and social media, it no longer seems permissible to go quietly along in my corner blogging away or writing without participating in a larger community of writers.  I do think this a good thing – it brings us closer to the original communal purposes of rhetoric and poetry. But it takes so much energy and time to be a good reader, a good commenter, an attentive follower, and it has been easier to just intake passively than join my voice to all the noise.

I’m realizing this is fear.  And ego.  At best, it’s cowardly. At worst, it’s neglecting my call, my way of being in the world and prayer itself. So, I’m going to try to be better at engaging, which is why this blog is here.