Something odd happened today. Perhaps I should say something rare happened. The overwhelming desire to write prose—descriptive prose no less—clutched at my heart and made me pick up a pen and scribble this as homage to my lost art and creativity.
While this may not impress those authors who never abandoned the classic cursive urges, it surprised and shocked me somewhat since my mantra for the last few years has been write it tight and concise. What caused this rare obsession to let the cursive juices flow? I can only surmise that it has to do with the fact that I’ve been having problems with the actual mechanics of writing in longhand. Guess what caused that? Yep, the dreaded keyboard addiction. Lately I’ve put myself on yet another Internet fast. I barely open my social media and have written nary a word of fiction in weeks. I’ve been outside soaking up the sun and fooling with the garden and I’m a little embarrassed to admit I have an actual relationship with a pair of hummingbirds who dive bomb me when they don’t get their showers.
With all the technology left in the dark recesses of my desk, my cursive skills are improving and therein lays the surprise—or maybe not. Maybe you’ve come to the same revelation and conclusion I have: the physical act of writing longhand has triggered a release of my creative writing urges, something I’d thought long lost with the advent of my novel writing duties and deadlines. Their return has proved sweeter than bitter, opening up my soul to that beautiful yearning to place words on paper and create an image that evokes emotion and response. Can art be far behind? I pray not.
But a concern is raised in my mind and heart when I hear that teachers are lobbying to stop teaching children cursive entirely. It’s a frightening possibility to me that if my lifelong creative abilities have been affected and stifled by writing on keyboard, what will cessation of cursive do to those lovely tiny forming minds? We evolved because we have opposable thumbs; we’ve communicated because we taught ourselves—rather developed—our ability to write out our thoughts, actions, emotions, and calculations. From pictographs to calligraphy we’ve released and cultivated our creativity over our existence and stopping our children from manipulating their hands just might stop them and us existing as sentient beings, slaves to our technology rather than freed by our creativity. That image terrifies me. Not so much the fear of technology it’s a great help to us, but fear of the retardation of our ability to think, to create, to philosophize and to solve. What is true existence without beauty? What is life without music or art or writing? My great fear is that we’ll trade beauty and love for convenience and sterility. That we’ll drown in our problems because we can no longer reason out solutions. Perhaps I’m reaching but I don’t think so. I vote for being safer than sorrier in this case. It’s not going to hurt the teachers and it may help if not save our future great minds from utter creative deprivation if cursive is continued and it just might keep us moving forward as a species. Much of music is mathematical, much of art is geometrical, and much of philosophy and writing is mechanical and all began with the movements of the human hand in tandem with the human mind; our technology began with human hands. Without flexible manipulation of those, our minds cannot expand and twist and grow. Those very creative urges that have returned in me might very likely never even develop in those who have never picked up a pen or pencil or brush. And that terrifies me completely.
So the return of the creative muses to my side brings both elation and sorrow. I hope and pray that the very “social” media we worship isn’t the same “social” media that isolates us from real emotion, real humanity, and finally, real love.