What drives people? Freud said that it was sex; Jung believed it was the need to belong; Adler proposed power; the Beatles, love. For me it's meaning. But what exactly is meaning? It's a word we use all the time but, like most words, it's probably a long time since we thought about it.
Samuel Johnson wrote, “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” In what way? In several. A writer can only go so far in describing anything; the reader takes what's on the page and will flesh it out. But the most important thing a reader does is imbue a text with meaning; it becomes significant to him. It took me a long time to realise that there was more than one way to interpret a text. I had always assumed that what I took from the text was what the author had put there, that I'd got his meaning. And, of course, that's partly true. No author writes a text that's meaningless but when combined with the life experiences of another something else, something unique is created: a new meaning.
There is a lot of bad poetry kicking around at the moment. The Internet is awash with it. There's always been bad poetry. I, myself, have written several hundred truly awful poems but hardly anyone’s ever read any of them. They sit in a cupboard in four hard backed notebooks I bought from Woolworths in the 1970s. At the time of writing I thought each and every one of them was brilliant. A few I considered works of genius—ah, the arrogance of youth—and I was genuinely gobsmacked when the few people I let read those poems didn't get them. The fault had to be theirs of course because I was a great poet.
Forty years on I see what the problem was. Every poem is an iceberg. This goes for all writing but especially poetry. Think about an iceberg. Only a fraction appears above the water and that's what we think of as an iceberg because that's what we see. Poems are icebergs. Only the tip of the poem ever makes it onto the page. The rest is still in the poet's head and so when he reads it he's fully equipped to make perfect sense out of it because he has all the missing pieces. Anyone else will have to use whatever comes to their mind and often—more often than not—they find they can't cobble together the right bits and bobs to make the poem make sense to them. This happens with bad poems and it happens with good poems too.
So what's all of this got to do with me changing the world? Everyone has certain talents. I have a facility with words. To my mind it would be irresponsible not to use that ability to effect change. The world is a big place (I think I mentioned that) and it doesn't read much either but the people on it do. The trick is to come up with something that more people than not will read and go, "Aha!" at the end. Poets, writers of haiku in particular, talk about this aha moment, a moment of clarity when maybe not everything but at least something finally comes into focus. Often it's something we thought or believed but never had the words to express and then, suddenly, we have the words.
It's unlikely you'll find me at the front of any protest marches or lambasting my local MP any time soon but if you look you'll find articles like this and blogs, short stories and poems all over the Internet. And if any one of them makes someone stop and think then that means something to me. People usually fail to achieve their goals for one good reason: their goals are unattainable. I can't change the world but I can make a difference. Even one person will do. It might even be you.