Zhuangzi's classic parables of his favorite butcher, whom he admired greatly, have always made this implication to me. The butcher effortlessly weaved his blade through his subjects, as if taking the skilled brushstrokes of an master artist.
It was a skill to contributed to the greater course of things. The butcher has a key, functional role in even the simplest society.
As a matter of pursuit and skill, I was greatly encouraged by teachers and friends to write. I remember particularly well one teacher that was, more than likely, the best I ever had. She tolerated my hyperactive and inept behavior to a saintly degree and always urged me to keep up high standards for my own writing and creativity. If anything, using words was the most outstanding skill I developed.
Never, however, did I pursue it. I didn't take any extra writing classes, put forth any unique efforts, or take any large opportunities, even here in college. Something in my upbringing always gave me the impression that there simply wasn't money or a sustainable living to be found in writing, and it was not conducive to a functional lifestyle.
Having recently found more and more incentive to pursue it, and my outlook on life and priorities having matured, I am finally returning to it, but am struck by an intangible sort of dilemma.
One of the first tenets of Taoism that fascinated me was the inherent flaws and paradoxical nature of human language. Words are, of course, simply primitive tools for expressing ourselves understandably.
I really do believe that. Words are simply our struggle to understand eachother. Writing lacks the literal manifest of a butcher or a craftsman. Those express themselves in clear, tangible, and undeniable senses. Writing, even if nonfiction or news, is a semi-tangible practice with an unavoidable, non-negateable, and altogether inescapeable margin of error.
Zhuangzi expressed the importance and joy of cultivated skill reaching a point of spontaneous flow. At the same time, he was infamously skeptical of the nature of our languages. Though it is a necessary convention, he always seemed to distrust it. This much I certainly understand.
So, despite the spontaneous and cultivateable nature of writing, this conflict subtly gnaws at me. Is writing a real skill? Something that you can refine and lose yourself within? It certainly seems to, yet the fact that it is a flawed endeavor makes it seem like a forgone conclusion.
I'm certainly not stressing terribly over it, but I can't help but wonder how to answer this notion. What do you think?