Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who Are You?

When we meet strangers, our first question after learning their names is often what they do for a living. We ask about only one aspect of their lives and might not get beyond that. I once heard a suggestion to ask instead, "Who are you?" I don't mean just the person's name. What if we inquire about what is important to people, what they really want from life and how successful they have been so far in finding what they want. I have ventured toward such questions at times but they seem intrusive. Do we really have the right to ask what makes other people tick, especially after just meeting them? People can always refuse or change the subject if the question seems too personal. When I can't bring myself to be so bold, I try to find out a little about people I will be meeting if possible, so I have an idea what they might be comfortable discussing. We can enjoy safe conversation, but we might learn something valuable about living our own lives by being bolder.

(Meet the cast- Caronia entertainers)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cell Phones and Anarchy

I have been bothered by the number of people who ignore the law about use of cell phones while driving. I would not want to be the victim of such drivers due to their inattention. A few days ago I read a letter to the editor in which the writer suggested that such laws were stupid and that people should be allowed to decide for themselves when it was safe for them to use a cell phone while driving. It occurred to me that such logic could also be applied to use of alcohol and other drugs while driving. Maybe people should be able to decide how much they could drink and still be safe drivers. Somehow the logic did not make sense. But it seems we have come to a point in our society where people take it upon themselves to decide whether laws make sense for them. If they do not think so, they take it upon themselves to do whatever they want. I wonder how we have moved from a nation of agreed-upon laws to one of personal laws fitting everyone's whim.
(Accident caused by a drunk driver using a cell phone)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Staying Alive

Last week I talked with a veteran, a World War II sailor on a seaplane tender in the mid-Atlantic. He told me of the many German submarines the task force sank. His ship was full of fuel and would have exploded with the impact of one torpedo. He told me there were three rules in the military: stay alive, stay alive and stay alive. But then he told me of people who could not face combat and committed suicide. At least some of them wanted control over their own death, even though it was not clear that they would die. The possibility was enough. I have never been at the point where life was not worth living and the prospects ahead not worth facing. In that sense I have been blessed.

(Flanders Field)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Both Sides Now

For the past few years it seems Americans have been polorized on just about any conceivable issue. Today I read in the paper reactions to the story about a baby dying after being left in a car accidentally. To my surprise, most people asked could empathize with the mother while at the same time seeing that she should be held accountable. It made me wonder whether it takes a tragedy to bring us to see both sides of an issue. I also wondered whether we have become a nation of polarized thinkers on our own or whether our political climate has done this to us. I guess we could argue both sides of this issue too but maybe we could just ponder it for a while before reacting.
(Original wall- Tower of London)

Monday, August 13, 2007


Recently I asked for feedback from some other writers about my novel manuscript. In the past, I felt I had to either accept or reject criticisms and suggestions. I have recently learned that I don't have to take everything at face value. Sometimes a comment with send my thinking on a tangent and I will realize something I could change which is only hinted at by the comment. It was a reminder to me that my thinking does not always move in a linear direction. Sometimes it can be prompted to move off in a way I never expected. What an interesting journey!
(Mayan road- Cozumel)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Signs of (Wild)life

This morning I sat on my front porch with a bowl of cereal, nuts and fruit. I noticed cars and trucks straining to accelerate as quickly as possible to get their commute behind them. Between rushes of traffic, a black capped chickadee stopped by my porch to admire my coleus, blossoming hibiscus and plumeria and also to share its song in appreciation. A fat gray squirrel waddled out from beneath a bush to see what all the fuss was about and then waddled back again. Maybe part of the purpose of nature is to balance our hectic pace.

(Black capped chickadee)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Writing, Editing and Creativity

While I was writing my novel, The Pastor's Inferno, I found my mind flooded with creative ideas, often not related to the project on which I was working. After I finished my first draft and switched to editing mode, I found that new ideas were more sparse and it became more difficult for me to find ideas for my blogs and columns. I have not been able to figure out why this is. Maybe focusing on creative writing stirs up other creative images while editing keeps me focused on ideas I have already discovered. I wonder if other writers experience the same phenomenon.
(Windows- Tower of London)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Friend in Need

Sometimes I think I need to address difficult situations by myself and become more embroiled in them as I wrestle with what to do. Then I reach the point where I realize that I don't have to handle it by myself and that others are willing to assist me if I just ask. I have weathered such a difficult situation lately and am thankful to those who came to my assistance, especially Joe H.

(Lifeguard, Trunk Bay, St. John)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On Completing a Novel

I recently completed seven months of work on my novel, The Pastor's Inferno, and have sent copies to my small band of critical readers. Although I did not have to undergo labor, I feel like I have given birth in some ways. I am protective of my creation, a little nervous about how my readers will accept it and hopeful that it will make a contribution to those whose paths it crosses. I also feel the separation from a work which has been an integral part of me for so long and now has to stand on its own. I want it to do well, but I realize there will come a point where I will have to let go and allow it to survive on its own.

(Scene from Dante's Inferno)