So I was out at the bars. Not how you expected me to start a blog which involved the word orthodoxy in the title was it? Well hear me out.
I was out at the bars, a whiskey sour cradled in my hands as I just soaked in the sounds, the lights and the sheer noise involved. I love the feeling of letting sight and sound overwhelm the senses even as I remain standing silent and still in the crowd. The moment sweeps over me and for a brief instant...I don't exist.
It's a moment of freedom. A moment when life so overwhelms the body, it's like a wave that crests over the swimmer in the water.
But there's another type of freedom.
The smell of incense burns and tickles my nostrils, the slow melody of voices meld together into ancient hymns and a shiver runs down my spine as the slow procession moves towards the altar.
Yes, I'm referring to the Mass. You all know I'm Catholic, don't act so surprised.
2,000 years of tradition and scripture in the Mass connect me and you to those who came before and for a moment...I don't exist. Or more precisely, all the worries, concerns and anxieties which consume me, don't exist.
Rather, I am transported past those things into a type of spiritual overload. I always shiver during the Mass when I think of the splendor and the love inherent in it all.
It's a moment I cherish, to sit in a church and to be a part of THE Church. My phone is down, I don't look at my watch, I exist in a moment of freedom. I love it.
In my career as a journalist, I'm always moving, always pressing forward, looking for the story and it's never-ending in some ways. But that just makes me cherish the moments all the more.
Moments of freedom, when we can look at ourselves and see ourselves for who we are...those are rare.
See you next time, folks.
I have an obsessive personality. Once I have something deeply entrenched in my heart and mind, I am not one to let go of it. It's a challenge to press on, to be the ocean waves that wear down the rocks which are my obstacles.
And every journalist I know has this same personality. There is this need for information, to have a hand on the pulse of life and to make something tangible. It's why we do this crazy job during this wacky time. It's because we're obsessed. We wear it like a badge on our chests, marking us forever as something a little different.
If you think journalism is a 9 to 5 job, you're dead wrong. If you think it's that sexy piece of investigative journalism you saw on the stand one day, you're dead wrong. If you thought it was a bunch of flim flam and you called it "fake" you're still dead wrong. No, we're obsessive and in the mud and dirt of life every hour of the day.
What we do is blood and guts. It's the silence of grief and the roar of joy. It's knowing you want that feeling of having told a story. Every story, every person, every soul matters. It's reading the words on the page and seeing the ghost of a girl's sister rise up before your eyes to speak to you. And that kind of power is a miracle.
Why wouldn't we be obsessed if we have that ability?
But even with all this we must remember something more important than that: humility. Our bylines don't matter. Fact, and not the alternative kind either, people do not check out the byline. They look at the picture, wathc the video and then maybe they read the story. So it's a darn good thing we are not doing this for money or for fame.
We do this because we believe.
Now, I personally am a practicing Catholic, as anyone in my newsroom at the Daily Student could tell you. So as a Catholic, I believe in God, and saints and exorcisms and also something which I share with every other good journalist out there.
We're seeking truth, we believe in it and cling to it like a mother's apron. We thirst and pant for it like a man dying of thirst. Truth is what we want. Why else would we do this? It's not for fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.
We want the truth. For ourselves and for everyone.
I recently had the great pleasure to meet Roger Cohen, a columnist with the New York TImes. Cohen spoke of many things, but one thing that stuck out to me was this concept of the "head and heart" style reporting he practices.
Now, I'm not talking about the type of sentimentality and repulsive gushing of certain sites and bloggers. Rather, I'm talking about, and what Cohen spoke on, is the one of the great duties of we journalists.
We look into the eyes of men, women and children every day and we tell them they matter. We say your story matters, we use our gilded tongues to shape a story around their lives.
It's one of the greatest pleasures I know to walk into an interview and to feel a connection with my subject because we're both passionate about our subject material or about our life in general. Then we have the duty to report it and to do it well, so that our audience can understand the great why of it all.
And maybe we succeed at all of that. We've written the story that makes men weep, and women clutch their hearts. But what then? That's where the head comes into the equation. We do something next which some may call callous but I call rather brave and difficult.
We move on.
We move on, because it is the only way. I remember reporting in the midst of a courtroom because a woman allegedly shot her husband in the back as he tried to get away. I sat there for more than four hours listening to family members tell me of this man, of his life and of the two children who were bereft of a father. My heart broke at every word.
But I kept writing. Then I turned my story into my editors and...moved on.
We use our head and our heart in equal measure. Without one, we cannot be the journalists the world needs or deserves. But this philosophy isn't just about journalism, but life as well.
In life we cannot let our heart dominate us. We have to balance both the head and the heart to create our own stories. If we only have the heart, then we are a slave to our passions, heartaches and hurts. But if we only use our head then we are cold and some might say monsters.
Together, these two organs form men and women, each with their own unique genius. Embrace your genius, your heart, your mind and everything that makes you who you are.
That's all this week, folks. Thanks for reading. God bless.