Have you ever read a book that challenged the way you saw the world and lived your life? I’m quite sure we all have. For me, a good book like that can tend to make me have a whole host of things that I want to start implementing and changing about myself and my life, but it’s just impossible to do it all at once. Sometimes I let it slip and forget about it after awhile.
Yet inevitably, the kind of calling that is derived from the spirit of the book, or the voice of the author (whichever makes more sense to you), just returns to me in very unexpected ways. Sometimes a huge change in my life frees up resources, or gives me a worldview that enables me to start exploring those thought-provoking themes that drew my attention in the first place. Sometimes it’s during the routine of daily living that I am suddenly awakened to the realities described in some long-forgotten perused-through book.
This may lead to my decision to implement certain lifestyle changes or it may not, but to potentially influence another person in this same manner is one of the reasons why I write.
I see writing as an act of creating an entire cultural world. We may be adding onto another’s world, building bits of our own, or creating an entirely new one, but it is a creation that has so much potential to transform.
What do I mean by a cultural world? Well, just like the normal world, a cultural world contains an entire ecosystem of resources and organisms. Say if we decide to learn a new skill, we are drawing from pools of cultural resources that teach us how, when, and even why we perform it. After trying it out, we realize that this method may or may not be good for us; we write a review, a comment, or a blogpost – and add another bit of substance to that pool. We are the organisms that participate in a growing cycle of resources that contribute to that particular cultural act, and through our contributions, we affect other organisms who draw from our resources too. This cyclic activity is reminiscent of how a world works!
Building on that, a world has different continents and ecologies to go with them. Some parts of the world are more pertinent to the “why” of our actions. For instance, blogposts that explore our reasons and intentions, our foundations for living and doing. Other are catered to the emotional side of us (think art blogs, webcomics, poetry… and plain ol’ relationship or heart-centered content!), and it either directly or indirectly influences our emotions towards a particular “world” of being. There are so many parts (perhaps just one more example; the practical side of things – such as wikihows, to-do-lists, efficiency and effectiveness blogs etc.) to a single world, and each part has its own way that we the organisms may relate to the resource pools. For example, we might be more open to just feeling through the heart-centered “continents” of that world, or maybe contributing to it via our own creative work, while the more practical “continent” would demand that we engage more of our minds and bodies by practicing, engaging, and critiquing.
Once again if you’re a bit lost (pardon my idea-rambles!), a world could be something like “Exercise!” and the various continents could be the emotional side, such as motivational videos, pictures of superfit people doing cool things to get us pumping; the practical side, such as how our metabolism works, what kind of exercises are good for building which part of the muscle; the foundational side, such as why we exercise – to look good, to feel good, or to do good (carrying heavy things around, saving kitties from trees, saving people from fires)? Each of these continents have different ecologies which demand different kind of responses from us!
Finally, just like the real world, cultural worlds have habitats and food chains too. We have to learn how to find our own place to dwell in, and how to hunt our food. Say if I’m learning about drumming, I’ll have to know which skill sets I’m looking to improve, and where I could go about to find these resources e.g. youtube to search for bass-drum techniques? Not all videos are going to be effective for me, so I’m going to have to be more selective, and hunt down only the food that I need. It might take a bit of trial and error, but eventually I’ll probably find a couple of tasty ones and pry off the meat till there’s only bones left! After awhile I’ll learn what are the kinds of resources that are really useful to me (it’ll probably change over time), and collectively, it becomes like a habitat to me, a place where I know I can find food easily, and rest safely while digesting all these tasty information.
So… back to writing! In essence when we write, we create ways to think, do and feel that gives others a platform to develop their own, and also resource, nay, an entire world to share in. The very fundamentals of writing itself in fact draws from the cultural worlds of language, and formatting, and idioms. In other words, we are always interconnected. To contribute to somebody’s ability to see the very world around us, and to act in it – that just feels very powerful and connecting indeed; we don’t write into our little bubbles of thought, but it enters into someone else’s reality, pierces through the veil of disconnect, and transforms them either now, or sometime later. Alternatively, they enter into the landscape and atmosphere of our words and begin to inhabit it, growing their own populations of living, breathing ways of seeing, doing, and feeling that makes it very much their own as well.
So next time you write, do pause a moment and think of the kind of powers you wield – we are building new worlds here, you and I!