I’ve never successfully completed an entire book–although I’ve enthusiastically outlined and written introductions to at least five! This, of course, fails to include the vast number of book ideas that seem to enter my head every week (sometimes every day). With the coming of the new year I resolved to narrow this list down to three projects. I then made the decision to focus all of my efforts on completing one of these projects by this summer. It was extremely difficult but, after much deliberation, I settled on a little book I’ve tentatively entitled The Diary of A Despairing . . . I Mean, Aspiring Author.
In the coming months as I slave away writing, and re-writing, I intend to share “snapshots” of my progress. I would very much like your feedback. To get things started, I’m pleased to share the forward of this unusual little book:
The Diary of A Despairing . . . I Mean, Aspiring Author
How does one find meaning in a world that is meaningless? This question has lingered in my sub-consciousness for many years. When I was a boy I didn’t understand the problem because I didn’t understand the words of the Preacher: “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!” . . . I was naively optimistic. It took time for me to recognize life’s futility; time and real encounters with gratuitous evil. For in the midst of true anguish and despair it is impossible to avoid the hopelessness of our plight. Outside of these experiences, however, it is all too easy to drown the nihilism out. We’ve become experts at this in our culture. At any given moment there are a plethora of vain distractions at our disposal. Nevertheless, in times of intense suffering, though we are unwilling, the existential crisis is thrust upon us and we come face to face with the reality that our lives lack intrinsic value.
This book is about my encounter with meaninglessness. It chronicles the defining moments in my life, when suffering was unwillingly thrust upon me, and the internal spiritual crisis these events caused. Don’t get me wrong; compared to most, my experience of evil is more akin to a walk in the park. In essence, my plight is not terribly different from that of the average middle class Westerner. But this is precisely the problem I wish to highlight. We accept nihilism with such ease in the West because the majority of us live a life of ease.
The wretched soul sleeping in the gutter in Calcutta will, therefore, have no use for this book; he understands, far better than I, the futility of life. This book is for those of us who live in wealth, and comfort, and privilege (i.e., the majority of the West . . . even the “poor”). For those who are naively optimistic and or, simply, too frightened to face the void . . .