Don Rogers: Do your art, contribute
March 15, 2018
Every editor and publisher should write a weekly column.
Not because of some astounding intellect, insight or writing talent. No, such greatness eludes nearly all of us, across our titles and our roles.
I only say so as a way to reach out past the small circles even community leaders and celebrities run in. The mayor, the ski hill chief, chamber maven, football coach, restrauteur, mogul, Olympian, rock star. All of 'em.
Readers see your soul when you write regularly. Love you, hate you, or take or leave you, they at least get some sense of you, and what we all share in common. Over time, some will know you better than your friends do, if not your wife and kids. A few will know you better than you know yourself.
My wife doesn't read my stuff. She's long since learned she needs her deniability. "He wrote what? Good lord. I had no idea." It's hard to be married to an editor, especially one who expresses the "wrong" views on occasion. Then again, she already knows what she has, for better or for worse, as we declared to each other decades and decades ago.
You should write, too. No better means of thinking than with your fingers. And no, I don't mean snapping off Facebook posts. That stuff will kill your soul, you know. All that dopamine and cortisol.
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No, I mean something more reflective, like journaling. Like meditation, only more applied. Or maybe a column you can send to us for publication. Something you think deeply about and through, questioning assumptions, entering what the psychologists call "flow," this zone where time and just about everything else disappears for a bit. This place where you vanish and the column, the idea, the art becomes the thing.
Ah, here's a core belief, perhaps best expressed by of course a writer, Kurt Vonnegut: "Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."
I'm not presuming newspaper columns qualify as art. Maybe "art-like," though. I fasten on the soul-growing.
This is why we live in mountain towns, for our souls. There's plenty of art as we think of it, music, painting, photography, music, theater, architecture, sculpture, woodworking, coding. Don't underestimate coding as an art form. But also inspiration as nature feeds. And our athletic pursuits: skiing and snowboarding, along with running and hiking and biking, kayaking.
The losing of self, entering flow, is the common thread.
This touches on faith, as I think about it. Today's artists don't strike me as particularly religious sorts. But like the scientists, they once were counted among the most faithful, centuries ago. They all were trying to explore the soul or explain everything up to it, after all.
They still are, and what is more important than this, understanding why we are here in the first place?
I know this is a strange topic for something as temporal as a newspaper/news site.
But in our own way, we're also busy explaining and exploring life. That's how I look at it anyway: Our holy cause, why the business types sometimes call the journalists the "priesthood," so full of our concepts of ethics and morality. (Maybe a little full of ourselves, too.)
In that light, it's pretty ironic to be typecast as low-life purveyors of "fake news" by obvious liars with obvious agendas to serve themselves.
Such is the intrusion of ego, the antithesis of art, science and pretty much everything else concerned with finding flow, losing yourself in your art, ephemeral contact with the divine.
I see newspapering at its best as an expression of our soul, individually and collectively. Part art, part science and yeah, faith in the community, too.
Your contribution to the local paper — any of 'em — serves this as well as the more tangible information flow, I'd say more than an editor or publisher's column.
This is how you make the paper yours, because you can. Do it for your soul. Do it for ours.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Truckee Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.