So I don’t want to change the world. What am I doing writing, then?
Why did Joseph Campbell write? Why didn’t he just make his discoveries about myth and then keep them to himself? For some people, that’s enough, or at least they act as if it is enough. My favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, wrote her poetry and then locked it away, safe from “an admiring bog.” Charles Darwin discovered evolution by natural selection, but kept his discovery hidden for years. Even Isaac Newton, not exactly the picture of humility, had to be cajoled into finally publishing his laws of motion.
Teaching, of course, is a different sort of journey than those sorts of discoveries, because it makes little sense to teach to no one. Aren’t I, through my teaching and through even through this blog, trying to change the world? Maybe I am and maybe I’m not. I think, more than anything, I’m just trying to work out things for myself, and writing makes things more real for me. Teaching makes me understand. Teaching about an idea, especially an idea I’m really excited about, makes the idea more real for me.
And then I think maybe there’s something else, something that I don’t really understand, something I’m unable to describe.
Carl Sagan said this: “Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”
Can love change the world? I don’t know. But whether or not it can, it’s why I keep teaching, why I keep stooping down, picking up starfish, and tossing them into the ocean.