The Irritant Addresses His Craft
I write. I wrote my first stories in middle school and never stopped.
I’d choose to earn a living writing over any other job. I’d write for free. I often write for free because retirement offers the luxury of doing so. However, writing is not my ikagi, but a vehicle to deliver me to my purpose.
My purpose is to serve the planet, whether that be her environment or the people who depend on her for their lives. I didn’t choose my purpose, it follows from my humanity. We are all tasked to repay our planet more than we take from it.
This common purpose compels me to ask “how am I best suited to serve” and, just as important, “what purpose does my writing serve?”
I write as an act of resistance — poke, question and parody the artificial realities readers construct to filter out facts that suggest the world doesn’t fit into their narrow boxes. I write to irritate. Irritation disturbs readers’ comfort zones, forces them to confront a bigger and scarier world than the one they wish to cling to. Irritation draws readers’ attention to raw areas, to flaws and follies. In the best of all worlds, they would seek a cure.
Here’s the problem with insight by irritation. People avoid irritants. This tendency makes my ikagi more challenging that it might seem otherwise.
Far too often, I cross the border between irratating readers to serve their interests and irritating them for my own pleasure.
Irritants serve humanity and the planet. Rashes warn about deeper health issues. Bees pollinate plants. Flies and roaches are nature’s cleaners. Roaches enrich the soil. Their contributions don’t make them any less irritating.
The irritant’s imperative illuminates paths readers overlook — overgrown, constricted, hidden in shadows. Sometimes perilous. Too slight a sting and people ignore the irritation, causing them to miss the fleeting moment of epiphany. Too harsh and they take offense. They blame the irritant and hide from self-awareness. One misstep might paint a target on our backs, a target antagonized readers will aim for at every opportunity.
Irritants should question and reevaluate. When I drag my readers from the comfort zone, did I do so with good humor and kindness? Or have I crossed the line to malice and spite. Did I strike the right notes for the piece, or did I batter walls at random?
We leave this world impoverished, unemployed and with no physical comforts. Wealth and ideology won’t follow us to the grave or any afterlife that waits us. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t harvest and enjoy the fruit the earth offers. But if we don’t cultivate new fields to replace the resources we take, our lives will be failures and our children’s lives imperiled.
I pray the irritations I inflict not only scratch the surface but plant the seeds of healing.
Long live the resistance.
: even though many deny their dependence.