If you asked my dear friends Mike and Matt to define me in three words, I suspect they would say “Piano. Sports. Writing.”
And it’s true–I feel most like myself when those three passions rotate seamlessly in my day-to-day operations. This time of year, piano is front and center–I typically accompany a few pieces for District Music Contest. So every day, I sit at my piano for at least 15 minutes to practice, and then I usually pull out music I haven’t played in years and play around for another 15 minutes.
I’ve been keeping sports at bay in recent years for reasons I’ve tried to articulate, but cannot. And in 25 years of following sports, I’ve always been able to keep perspective. It’s just a game. It means nothing in the long run. And I’m never directly affected by any win or loss.
But I have been an absolute freak show during the Mountain West Conference tournament. Despondency follows elation; nausea follows joy.
And it bothers me. A lot.
Why was I getting so wrapped up in games that ultimately mean nothing? Something else had to be bothering me, but my brain has been so scrambled lately, that thinking brought no answers. So today, I wrote.
I have two blogs that I try to update with some regularity, but knowing that tens of people will read my words, I censor myself quite a bit. Today, I wrote–by hand, the old-fashioned way–with a smooth-flowing Sharpie pen on crisp paper in a spiral-bound journal. I wrote five pages. I stopped, I reflected.I wrote more.
I’m not sure I arrived at any concrete conclusions as to why BYU’s loss to San Diego State saddened me so. But with every word that transferred from my brain to my hand to my journal, I felt a little lighter.
That’s what I wish I could ultimately teach to my students: that writing is a tool to help us make sense of the world. We teach modes of writing, masked as purposes: inform, persuade, entertain, describe. With my AP students, they’ve written me definition essays, process essays, cause and effect essays. But really, why write if not to try and make sense of both joy and pain?
Today I wrote to figure out what is bothering me. I didn’t have an introduction or a conclusion. But the writing mattered. Today’s writing probably mattered more to me than my Master’s thesis or any blog post.
Writing is a tool–how do you use it?