When I logged onto Word Press this morning it had a little trophy icon waiting for me. It is my third blogging anniversary. I looked up a chart of traditional anniversary gifts and the third anniversary is leather.
I believe the traditional activity to celebrate one’s blogging anniversary is to look at the stats and reflect on the most popular posts.
The most popular post on this blog is A “Destructive” Love Affair: Empathy for Lord Alfred Douglas which has well over 600 hits and has just surpassed my post on the invisible famine in the Prodigal Son for the number 1 slot.
Interestingly, when I looked at my blog history, I found my first post was published in March 2011, and it is now November, so I am not sure where WordPress gets its anniversary figure, but I’ve come this far, so I might as well keep going.
Going back to my first posting, I see that I began this journey after looking through the notes in some of my late father’s books.
I picked up a paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s “Zen and the Art of Writing” and on the inside front cover my father had written these words: “write from where souls grow warm.”
On further reading, I found my father had crafted this gem from an observation of Bradbury’s; that when people speak from the heart they tell stories that rival any great author: “…they were all, when their souls grew warm, poets.”
People do not become poets when they speak from their minds— from what they know. They become poets when they write from what they feel. Empathy and imagination are, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, more important than knowledge.
And so it is fitting that my two most popular posts should both be about empathy and imagination. The article on the Prodigal Son has to do with our lack of imagination when it comes to problems we have not, personally, experienced. The article on Lord Alfred Douglas was written after I read Douglas’s correspondence with George Bernard Shaw:
What I loved most about the correspondence between the far right Douglas and the far left Shaw is that it is a story you don’t hear much these days, the story of two people who disagree on everything and who continue to hold great affection for one another. I found the correspondence to be uplifting for this reason.
All of these articles focus on how the way we tell stories, our focus and the language we use, shape our understanding of the world.
People always describe the relationship between Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas as a “destructive love affair.” The implication is that the love affair itself was at fault (for Wilde’s downfall)…
It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Wilde to say, “Your father is making my life hell and this relationship is not worth it.” He wasn’t willing to do that. Through all sorts of external pressure and private conflicts of their own, they were determined to stick together. With Oscar Wilde and Bosie Douglas we call this destructive obsession. Yet in a straight couple wouldn’t we call it something else? Wouldn’t we call that commitment?
I recently changed the name of this blog from “One Writer’s Thoughts” to “The Power of Narrative.” Looking back, I think I got it just about right.