Still, for some unknown reason, I am driven to to use the written word to express myself. Good or bad, reasoned or pointless, editorially solid or a piece of fluff, writing fills a need within me.
Self-expression is about being able to say what you mean or want to say -- what is truly on your mind. It is about expressing yourself in words, music, painting or any activity that allows inner expression or emotion to come out.
Some people like me find it easier to write something than to verbalize exactly what is being felt. Others express themselves through creating materially, i.e. painting, building, inventing; still others need an audience to preach to.
Early in my career as a newspaper reporter and then a public relations practitioner, I read a lot and networked a lot, generally repeating bits and pieces of what I read, heard or observed -- sneaking an opinion into my copy here and there that may, or may not, have survived the swipe of an editor's pencil. Most of the time I was either summarizing or emphasizing rather than creating something original. Writers-for-hire conform to the style of the publication or corporation that employs them. This experience, however, helped me in the end to adopt a style of my own and an appreciation for the freedom and satisfaction derived from bonafide self-expression, influenced only by what is on my mind and in my heart.
I am intuitive enough to know that there are people (particularly those who knew me in my formative years) who question my motivation in talking about religious matters on this site or to philosophize on life in general, as I am wont to do on occasion. "He wasn't the brightest light academically." "What all of a sudden qualifies him to speak on such matters?" Behind-my-back snickers and sneers in the past have also not gone unnoticed. Criticism, likewise, has come with the territory.
I even recall an incident several years ago when I was being congratulated for a church sermon I had delivered as a lay preacher. "You missed your calling, Dick," the nice lady commented. "Oh no he didn't!" a long-time friend interjected, "I knew him when...!" That one continues to smart just a little. It may have been spoken in jest but the insensitivity of the comment robbed me of a rare opportunity to bask in the compliment of the moment.
My only response to questions and situations of that nature, is to say that human kind's greatest gift is the privilege of speaking our minds, hence the freedom of speech and religion, two of our inalienable rights. In my advanced stage of life I resist the impulse to hold back. If I have something to offer, I give it in the hope that what I write somehow strikes a chord and fills a need for someone, somewhere.
For the life of me, I cannot excuse myself for having exercised my creativity through writing, albeit ever so humble. Every so often it has enabled me to turn something mundane into something magical. The bonus comes when, unconsciously, I have opened a new window to the world through which fresh air can enter. That is always my fondest hope.
Creativity through self-expression is a precious force that pervades every aspect of existence and can bring its influence to bear on every part of our world. It has potential to change everything for the better.
I am not sure how much time I have left to adequately craft into words what is in my heart. Creative fulfillment is always just beyond my reach. Time is fleeting. Bear with me, friends old and new, as I attempt to express myself with the best of intentions and motivation for as long as I am able and when conditions allow. It's what I do when my heart moves me, regardless of how I may be perceived. In suppressing the gift of self-expression, I miss a calling!