One the first day of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me . . .
Yep. It’s that time of year when latkes sizzle and candle flames flicker.
And let’s not forget the old saw about the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight nights.
But for me the real miracle is that a small band of determined and incredibly outnumbered people fought for the freedom to worship, to believe in their own way, and actually won.
I don’t know about you, but I think about freedom a lot:
Physical freedom from slavery, hunger and disease
Political freedom to express opinions, to vote
Creative freedom to think differently, to break the chains of our self-imposed limitations
Yet all of us are prisoners. We embrace “conventional wisdom” without thinking about it. We often succumb – willingly – to a negative status quo.
When I stop to think about my writing and career, I’m agog at all the truisms I’ve bought into without question:
No one respects creativity anymore
Writers must market to be successful
Piracy is inevitable
More editing = better work
No one reads anymore
The list goes on and on . . .
I’m not saying that the above – and the many more givens I accept – don’t hold grains of truth. I’m just sayin’ that maybe I’ve spent more time responding to them rather than thinking about how much they’re true in the first place.
So . . . this Hanukkah, my first present to all of you is in the form of a wish:
May you all experience the miracle of questioning, of looking anew at your long-held beliefs. And may you free yourselves from those that are holding you back in your personal and professional life.
The videos below are my second present to you. All of them blast away at certain kinds of conventions. I hope you enjoy them
1. Dar Williams sings “The Christians and the Pagans”
I love this song for the message of putting aside differences — if only for an evening — and learning to find “common ground.” (Sorry to include a link rather than embedding, but this is the best quality link to really hear the words.)
2. Danny Macaskill rides his bicycle in ways that’ll blow your mind.
3. Paddy Jones dances at Spain’s big talent show.
Ms. Jones is a 75-year old woman who can dance a mean salsa. Even though the quality of the video isn’t as good as I’d wish, it’s message comes through.
Questions for discussion:
What are some of the positive or injurious conventions you see out there in the reading and writing world?
Have you rejected a conventional wisdom lately? If so, what was it?