Speaking of how the Dalai Lama can fill a stadium of people to hear him speak, Desmond Tutu observed,
It’s not the words.
It’s the spirit behind the words.
(in The Book of Joy.)
When I read really great writing, I sense the ‘something’ that takes it from good to phenomenal. I was recently judging poetry, for example, and for most pieces, it was easy to set them aside as pretty words to something worth a second look. Others grabbed me and were set in the possible winner pile. My co-judges ended up with piles that included the same pieces. They were special.
I just spent the weekend at the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm. I have reached the place in my writing where I have many skills. I am shortlisted for many competitions. But I often feel that ‘something’ is missing, and judges must too, since I have never won a first. What is it? This is the year I’ve been specifically searching for the answer. Through the course of the weekend, I found a familiar refrain through many workshops. The universe was answering my question.
It’s about intention.
We need to know WHY we’re telling the story. We need to know the audience and we need to know why we’re telling the story to THAT person (different things, possibly). Knowing these things puts a point of focus on the work that can elevate its power.
So I have this newfound knowledge in my pocket, and the next day, Desmond Tutu tells me this. It’s the spirit behind the word. What is that if not intention? I think personality is spirit, but fundamentally, it’s about intention. The Dalai Lama’s intention is spreading peace, love, and acceptance. It’s the spirit of the words he speaks, and the truth behind his intention resonates deeply within those who hear him. I’m not sure, precisely, how to do this, but I am fairly certain that like dealing with addiction, acknowledging it is the first step.
When the universe has a message for you, it can get quite insistent.