Fan or Can?

Fan or Can? (1,239)

August 15th, 2011

Yesterday he came to my book table. He was one of those serious-minded younger fellows who had a question brewing around his brow, trying to find a way to pop it out of his mouth. “Who are the influences in your writing experience?”

People like him love questions like that—they adore to discuss things. They can probably yammer for hours about interpretations, periods of time, feelings, wishes and trends. I don’t like it. For instance, I’m a musician who doesn’t like to “jam.” If you want to play, perform or write songs, I will join you for a short length of time, but just to sit around and feel the keys under my fingers is not my idea of a pleasurable experience. I don’t like to watch shows about cooking food. I don’t care what you do with your tarragon or your parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Call me when it’s ready to eat.

So the young man really felt he had come up with an important question, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I said something like, “I enjoy lots of people who write and think they do a good job.”

This only served to aggravate him. “No,” he said. “Who influenced you to start writing when you were younger>”

You see, the honest answer is that no one specifically influenced me. I just noticed what writing can accomplish. I experienced the impact of writing. So I went out and did it poorly until I did it better, until I did it the way I do it now, which is just … me.

To my taste, America has become too much a nation of fans and not enough a country filled with those who pursue and see if they can. It reminds me of the trek west during the time of “manifest destiny,” when we believed that the entire North American continent was ours and that we must inhabit it, much to the chagrin of the local Cherokees. If this were to happen today, we would have constant debates, seminars, “Conestoga-Wagon-for-Dummies” books and news reports on the deadliness of the journey, to discourage folks from ever trying it for themselves.

This is what I believe—the greatest form of appreciation, impact, signs of influence and ultimately, worship, is motivation. I am not interested in a political system that talks about Abraham Lincoln and acts like Mickey Mouse. I am not particularly impressed with a religious system that extols the greatness of God and then comes up with puny, fearful efforts of its own.

When will we realize that we are what will eventually be the forefathers, great writers, great thinkers and intelligent leaders looked back upon by those who will dwell in the future? This is why I don’t like to go to book conventions and film festivals—just a bunch of people sitting around and fussing over how something should be done, a little frightened at the core to try it for themselves. Or maybe it’s laziness. Because after all, who really knows what is “good” unless it has benefit to mankind?

Charles Dickens wrote many books and if you’re a Dickens fan you’ve probably read all of them, but the one he will be most known for is A Christmas Carol, because it delivers a message to mankind that we need to hear. Line upon line of poetry has been written over the years, but the only two lines I know of that can be pretty well be universally quoted by everyone were written by a foot soldier in WWI, and it says, “Poems were made by folks like me, but only God can make a tree.”

Yes, I am saying it aloud—much of what we think is “art” ends up floating into the air and disappearing into meaninglessness. It’s what reaches the hearts of people that makes the difference and doesn’t need to be discussed, because it’s understood.

I am a fan—but I express my devotion by doing what I can.

I am a fan of Jesus but I wouldn’t want to sit around a table with a bunch of theologians and speculate over “jot and tittle” of Biblical interpretation. I give my tribute to him by doing what he asked me to do—keep his commandments. Emulate him. He even went one step further. Jesus said, “Go and do greater things than I did.”

In his day, the Jews wanted Jesus to be a fan of Abraham and David. He told them that “before Abraham was, he was” and that “he was not the son of David, but rather, David called him Lord.” Some people would call that arrogant. It wasn’t—just a guy who realized that being a fan is not enough. The true way you show your appreciation is to go out and do, in your own way, what you can.

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: