Thursday, January 30, 2014

Words of wisdom

I've been digging into some of the less-visited recesses of my laptop as I go about freeing up disk space. Among the forgotten gems I've found was a Notepad file of assorted quotes and clips about journalism, how to go about it and why anyone would want to do it in the first place. This was one of my favorites -- a note from someone who is considered a Big Deal by people in the know but who took time to write me while I was struggling through a dark period of my time in Hawaii. This came in response to me discussing how I feel alienated no matter where I live, a feeling that persists to this day:
I've worked in Hawaii just a little, so am aware of the tension between the native islanders and the late arrivals. You see this on other islands too, even in the old New England East. Out on Block Island, for example, anyone who wasn't born there - no matter how many years they've lived there - is referred to as a "washashore." 
I mention this only as a reminder that over the course of a career, a writer finds himself mostly on the outside of everything looking in. It's our natural state of being. And it's important to remember that we can only do what we do by being at a slight remove from the things around us. It's our way of seeing.
I think of it as having one foot in the world of other people, and one foot out in the smaller, more dispassionate realm of the artist or journalist. It's a hard way to live some times, but it's the only way to do the work. I'm this way both by training and by nature, so find it a comfortable enough way to live. But it allows me to see, I think, a clearer kind of truth when I set out to do a story.
I guess I mention all this just to remind you that our work challenges us in many ways. One of those challenges is to tell the truth at moments when others seek only peace or silence or comfort.
You did right by the truth, and that's all we have to go by.
I hope this finds you well and thriving in that beautiful place.
[Redacted in the interest of privacy]

No comments:

Post a Comment