I don’t keep up with the Beatles. I was too little (and not the political type) to appreciate them.
But at a church Christmas party last week when I hunted for something to write on, a friend mentioned the new book out, about their lyrics. Some of their songs were birthed on table napkins and scraps of paper, to be re-written later. Of course, writers understand this. The original rough drafts have since scattered across the globe, to land in museums. And today they’re worth millions.
I mentioned my hopes for all my scribbles on scraps and bits to become valuable, but another friend reminded me, That won’t happen until you’re dead. And we don’t want you dead yet. And besides, you’re not a musician.
So, lyrics are worth more than prose?
Still… I can’t help but scribble. Sitting in meetings, services, waiting for appointments… when cooking or cleaning, or riding in the car… and driving the car.
Like this morning, on my way to work. Hard to keep my eyes on the road while watching the sunrise.
Creamy ivory clouds hung against the last vestiges of autumn oaks and golden grasses. Home to cow families grazing, at peace with the new day. The air was a mix of chimney smoke and thin morning fog, where the sun appeared beyond and between distant hills at the feet of the Sierra.
If I’d had a camera and the time, I would have pulled over.
But sometimes all I have are words. And those are the times when words must do.
Between scribbles I prayed, Please God, don’t let me hit a deer, or a cow, a raccoon, coyote, squirrel, wild pig, herd of turkeys, a flock of skunks, stray dog, feral cat… please? I have to write this down before I forget.
Which explains the piles around my house.
For visual artists, brushstrokes and sketches take the place of words. Quick colors and shapes spread on canvas in a moment of inspiration. Bits of artistry expressed before the image passes. Sometimes these scraps become something larger. Other times they’re left to sit, then later moved aside to make way for new inspiration.
In social media photos get more Likes than lines of text. And today’s emails should be reduced to a mere five sentences, if you want them read. Any longer and the reader will most likely scan and delete. But isn’t communication the point of the writing? And what if what needs to be said doesn’t fit into a concise handful?
Yes, a picture paints a thousand words. But even in a society verging on illiterate, we shouldn’t minimize the power of our words. Of any words.
As a young girl, Helen Keller’s handicaps reduced her to living like an animal, unable to see, hear, speak or interact with others. But when Anne Sullivan moved in and introduced language, an unruly girl became calm, the brute became human.
Whether put to music or sent in a text, beings made in the image of God were meant to communicate. Not to grunt.
Keep thinking, keep scribbling. Whether you paint with colors, music, dance or words.
We’ll want to know what you’re thinking before you’re dead. We may even find it valuable.