Happy Thanksgiving, y’all

It’s been a rough year. But tomorrow is a time for me to be thankful for all the blessings a good God has given. Though we have suffered through much this year, we can also be thankful for much. For those who have lost someone, for those who have fallen by the wayside, I send my prayers.

And for those of you who are my Readers, thank you.

A Reader is a thing of Beauty. They give writers hope. There’s Someone out there who loves words, loves language, as much as a writer does. There’s Someone out there who is up for an Adventure into lands undiscovered. There’s Someone out there who values their time and believes a little of it should be allocated for the Imagination.

A Reader is a thing of Wonder. They give writers courage. There’s Someone out there who will follow a writer into dangerous waters. There’s Someone out there who will tackle difficult language and even more difficult subjects. There’s Someone out there who will go into a Concentration Camp or a Dungeon on a faraway planet and listen to a prisoner’s story. That Someone may be the only one to ever hear that story.

A Reader is a thing to Love. Without that dear Someone, a storyteller, a writer, mignt never ever be appreciated for her Imagination, for his Creativity. A Reader is that Someone who bears witness to the importance of books.

Without that Reader, there would be no Jane Austen. No Charles Dickens. No Walt Whitman. No Tolstoy. No Dostoevsky. No Thomas Hardy. No Dorothy Parker. No Jules Verne. No Peter Pan or Dorothy or Harry Potter. No Frodo or Lucky Jim. And no Homer or Saphho. No Sylvia Plath or Emily Dickinson.

Without that Reader, the world would be less of a place one wanted to live in. Without that Reader, where would Disney have gotten all those stories for the films he made. Without that Reader, there would be no Narnia. There would be no words to inspire composers or artists for there would be no books. And that surely would be hell.

Near 500 words: The best of times

Charles Dickens begins his A Tale of Two Cities with “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”  Often we spend our time dwelling on and complaining about the worst of times. Yet life is filled with so many opportunities to say thank you. So why not make everyday a Thanksgiving.

For the world is filled with wonder. No day passes without at least one Wow. Many’s the time I’ve stepped out of my house: The birds were singing. The wind was a cool breeze. The grass was all green. And the roses were blooming.

Many’s the time I’ve listened to a piece of music that took my breath away: Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleaves”, Ravel’s “Une barque sur l’ocean” and Maurice Jarre’s “Lara’s Theme” from “Dr. Zhivago”.

Many’s the time I’ve looked at a face and realized Time is a master sculptor. Before me was a great work of art.

Many’s the time I’ve looked into someone’s eyes and thought that there are amazing worlds inside this human being. An eternity of memories. Sadness and joy, wonder and tragedy.

Way too often I’ve forgotten to say, “Thank you,” for the feast laid out before me.

Thanksgiving day is a wonderful reminder of all the times I do forget

And I love the way Don Henley gets it all down in his song “My Thanksgiving”:

The Gift

As she stood in the living room, Doug’s daughter looked beautiful in her strapless, ankle length evening dress. Just gorgeous. Marge’s blonde hair was short and curly and that accentuated her blue eyes. She had her mother’s eyes. Ellen, her mother, snapped several photographs, then she urged Jack, her daughter’s date, to join Marge so she could take more.

Jack’s smile was the smile of someone who was receiving a precious gem. He took the flower out of its box, laid the box on the table and walked over to Marge. He went to pin the flower to the gown. His hand shook. He was too nervous.

Doug said softly, “I’ll do it.”

Jack looked at her dad with grateful eyes.

Doug took the flower from Jack’s hand and pinned it onto his daughter’s gown. “There,” he said, then kissed his daughter on the cheek.

“Thanks, Dad,” Marge said.

Doug backed away, proud of the girl they’d almost lost two years earlier from cancer. Ellen snapped more pictures. As Marge stood beside her date for the prom, her face glowed.

Doug and Ellen followed the two outside. Standing on the porch, they stood arm in arm, and watched the work of their lives get in the car and drive away. Their eyes were filled with wonder.

Near 500 words: No More Comparisongs

“What are Comparisongs?” you ask.

Comparisongs are those I compare myself with. But there is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to come close to catching up with them. I am talking writers here, of course. If I was a musician, they would be musicians.

When I was young and green, I wanted to be the next Hemingway. ‘Course I didn’t have the machismo in me that the Maestro. I wasn’t into hunting or fishing or bullfighting or punching someone’s lights out. That didn’t stop me from wanting to match myself up against the Master. I thought I could write simple declarative sentences and make them sing as good as Papa did. Little did I know how much hard work had gone into those sentences.

Being Hemingway for me was like a rich kid from New England trying to be Mark Twain. That kid would not have had a chance. He might have had some Mayflower in him. He sure wouldn’t have had much Mississippi mud in him the way Sam Clemens did. And he probably would not have wanted to be a riverboat pilot either. Or a newspaper man, for that matter.

Being a Southerner, I could’ve taken on Faulkner. After all, he wrote sentences as long as the Big River. Faulkner didn’t interest me. I knew there was a story there but I sure didn’t have the patience to find it among all those sentences. They didn’t make much sense to me. The one thing I did have was some storytelling in me and it was rarin’ to get out.

When I was young and wild and had my head up my rump, I thought I had the potential to do anything literary I wanted. That was my expectation. Little did I know that there was a heap of life those writers, and others too, had lived and I had not lived it.

Along the way I took on Graham Greene and Alice Munro and William Trevor and Yasunari Kawabata. I wanted to do what they had done. Only there wasn’t nary a way it was going to happen. Sure, I could take a shot at imitating their sentences and try at the stories they wrote. But I wasn’t them, and they weren’t me. They had lived their stories. And I forgot that the only story I had to tell was my own.

What story was that? It was the story built out of my own life experiences. I was no Midwesterner who took off for Paris after suffering a war wound on the Italian front. I was no English rover who saw the underside of the world and lived to write about it. Elegantly, I might add. I was no Canadian woman nor Anglo-Irishman. I was not Japanese.

It took me a long time to lay down the expectations and the Comparisongs and take on the mantle of the writer I was to be. But this Thanksgiving I am thankful for the Journey and for those Masters who showed . And also thankful that I have reached a place in my vocation when the only expectation I have is this. To let go and sing my stories the way only I can sing them.

Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick: Kind and Generous

It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. Uncle Bardiie gives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection: “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant.

It’s Thanksgiving. And this is to thank all who do wonderful things for me and others. Have a happy Thanksgiving out there, y’all.