Sometimes we’re happy, from a little thing.
We read a quote, think of a joke, or hear an our-of-place phrase.
We snicker, then look around:
Who else is laughing?
“Oh,” we think.
We stop laughing.
“All right now, class: each of you will receive a copy of this sheet of a family. You’ll need to color it, cut it out, then paste it onto card stock. We’ll be displaying them on the bulletin board for everyone else to see.
“You will only have a short amount of time to work on it, so color what’s most important to you. Maybe it’s the house. Or, you’ll focus on the mom’s hair and the kid’s clothes. I know I like to pick lovely colors for those flowers.
“When I say it’s time for scissors, you will have to see what you have time to cut out before we need to paste them. Sometimes, students only get the mom and dad out, and one of the dogs, before we need to move on. I had one classmate who removed the house, family members, and a flower very meticulously but the card stock was gone by that time and they had no background.
“If everyone is ready, then, you may begin. Hurry, but have fun!”
Despite what they claim, I don’t think people actually enjoy sewing. Like childbirth, they only recall the hard-won joy of holding up their finished project.
While laboring, however, you hardly see a seamstress (or seamster) smiling. Grimaces don’t count.
Of course, I find smiling difficult with pins in my mouth, too.
We will all die.
We are only alive in the minds of others,
And the people we make from ourselves.
Through procreation, creation, and influence:
We will all live.
Who will you touch today, and what mark will you leave behind?
Sometimes I actually enter reality:
I step into the Total Perspective Vortex.
Emotions reeling, I make rash, irrational decisions
That are, of course, the rational thing to do.
I stumble around trying to mend the upheaval,
Trying to reason with unreasonable matters.
Ultimately, as always, I run out of time for closure.
I return to effective numbness, and dormant depression.
Too sad to be happy, too functional to drug.
Sometimes a compliment is sunlight glancing through the only arrow slit in the wall of a deep dungeon of stone. Looking up from the dripping walls, dank atmosphere, and filth on the floor, I am distracted by a happy idea I forgot could exist.
At the time we meet a person, we have caught him mid-story -perhaps on page 322, paragraph 5. He has read all that came before because it is his life, but you have not. You are only looking at that page, and mentally writing your own thoughts entirely for pages 1-321. You’ve even supplied your own prologue, prequels, and alternate series set in the same world.
I recommend this approach for someone who will likely take advantage of you. You may be three hundred pages in; but know, from other stories of scowling street stalkers, that caution would be wise.
That aside, let’s remember that a new person is a new chance for both in the encounter. He and we are perusing people, and the future has not been written yet.
When a person makes a child, there is at least a small part of the father and the mother in him. These pieces are not always the best ones, but I love how they suddenly sparkle in the light of conversation or in that left-side dimple smile.
I love talking to an aunt with the same laugh as her brother and the same nervous smile as her sisters. I enjoy seeing a child’s expressions -then, meeting her parents and noting that same crinkle at the corner of the eyes or similar hand gestures when outlining a point.
We’re like a stone formed from the pressures of life, with bits of our ancestors glinting here and there. That is our makeup, and our formation overall depends on the loving people who raise us, interact with us, and marry us.
Where do you begin a story? What phrase, word, sentence, or dirty limerick will catch the erstwhile book-glancer and make him keep going?
Did I do it right?
I am certain there is a perfect formula. My English professor said so, when we spent time going over this best-selling author or that brilliant philosopher.
Will you stay: a paragraph, a page, a chapter, till the end?
I followed The Formula. I avoided cliché and outright plagiarism. I followed the advice of experts, books, neighbors, and my mother.
Did you love my story?
My mother said she liked it. Or, she said, “I’m proud of you, dear.” I’m sure that means the writing was good as well.
Was it enough to share it with others? Read again? Become a bestseller?
I’m going to be famous.
Original creation is a tedious, careful process of spinning one’s ideas together into a fragile orb of light. We flock around, judging it through our eyes. We are eager to scrutinize, criticize, demean the hands that formed it -till the combined pressure shatters the crystalline miracle into shards.
As another person carefully forms her ideas and bravely holds them aloft to glow for the world, take a moment to appreciate the effort and build toward betterment.
So much more difficult than mimicry or satire, originality needs careful handling.
Then, our criticisms may support her hands to strengthen her work till the world’s judgments merely fire it to a higher gloss finish of beauty.