It is that which is this – only this and nothing else but this.
Reading, writing – what’s it all about?
This writing is habit, routine – and often the same, but never quite. Why I do it is easy to explain, what I write about is different every day – and it has no prescribed purpose other than to spill onto the page what thought is rattling in my brain at that particular moment on any particular morning.
This morning I’m in the guest room of my daughter’s home, finishing my second cup of coffee, getting ready to load my vehicle and head for home. I am heady from spending time talking with my daughter, visiting, playing with my grandchildren and leaving before I wear out my welcome – which is often and readily offered. I’ll be back again at Christmas and probably once more before that. And I always sleep so well here, I know there is magic in these visits that my unconscious understands better than the conscious me.
But I must write about something else this morning. I must:
Life is funnier than fiction – for art’s sake alone, or because we need to?
For what purpose? Why? Why write a column – what is my raison-d’etre?
I don’t normally respond to critics, but this one just struck a nerve. We all need, I believe, to listen to contrary views, criticism and suggestions from time to time. When we do, sometimes it is best to carry on. Sometimes it is time to tell someone to go suck an egg. Sometimes it is time for change.
Someone offered a complaint. Not critique, not recommendation – but outright complaint.
Was it about me, about this column … or about something else? I’m not sure, but it strikes me that it warrants some examination.
The premise of the complaint – has, it seems, two elements.
The first, that I don’t have a mission statement. Really? I’ve never felt this column needed one. I don’t write for anyone else – I write for me, for what is on my mind, in my belly and/or commentary on life as it breezes by. My reader thinks I am wandering aimlessly through life without sufficient focus – that having a mission statement would help me focus better. I’ll ponder that. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to follow Rosenblatt’s reasons for writing … to make suffering endurable, to make evil intelligible, to make justice desirable, and to make love possible. Is that equivalent to a mission statement? No. Yes. Maybe.
Praise is important.
Anti-praise, discouragement and disdain do nothing that inspires anyone.
The second plank of my critic’s platform relates to some anger felt toward me. This goes back a few years when I was having some difficulties. I asked for help. It was refused. Fair enough. That refusal, however, came with suggestions about how I ought to solve my problems. Interesting, at the time, that someone from far away who didn’t know anything about me and had never met me supposed they could instruct me to solve my problem their way. Well, I solved my problem my way. That, it would seem, is the problem now – that in addition to not having a mission statement, that I was wrong-headed to have solved problems my own way.
All of this has struck me oddly – perhaps because of where I am and what I am doing. Yesterday I headed north to Fort Saskatchewan. Visiting with Carla, Chad, Isla and Alex – and Toby the cat – my family example of how people do well, do their best, without advice being thrust upon them. That life is life. Life is not a mission statement – least of all someone else’s.
Life, family, success at anything – is about living.
Living one’s own life, not someone else’s.
How I tie my shoes, saw a board, speak my words or tie my necktie – these are issues on which I welcome suggestions from someone who thinks I can do better. I welcome people who suggest how I might improve my writing, perform tasks better or more effectively serve my clients – love it, always want to get better and don’t profess to know it all – so those bits of help are helpful.
But, tell me how to feel? How to live? How to determine the ‘why of things’ in my life – now you’ve gone too far. And far far far from me is where that person needs to be.
Having positive friendly people in our lives is far easier than having difficult, unreasonable or unbalanced people in our lives. That alone ought to be argument enough to decide we want the positive ones around us and the negative ones far away.
column written/ published from Fort Saskatchewan
morning walk: 5C/41F, overcast with a ribbon of gold on the eastern horizon. Gusta delighted in our route – she’s not been here in a while so everything needed a sniff. This place, the ‘subdivision in progress’ mixes earth moving next to lawns, show homes next to excavated basements, monster sunflowers Carla has grown looking out at a field, a sunrise and a scraper.