Monthly Archive: April 2017

The Things I Find #4

Do you wonder why that sign caught my eye? It was taped to the glass door of a barbeque restaurant in my home town a while back. It’s the town I came from, not where I live now. Of course, I understood the meaning right away. Who could miss the wisdom of warning customers pushed there by winds gusting to near 40 mph that injury could result from daring to enter? I snapped the photo because that sign prompted me to reflect, later, on the choice behind posting that sign.

We humans are choice-making machines. Each day, whether consciously or not, we choose each action we take. Some bits of behavior we choose so often that they become habits. Which shoe goes on first? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea? For many of the choices we make, we may even justify them by telling ourselves it’s the most efficient, or the only logical, or the simplest (or any other rationalization) thing to do. Posting that sign probably fell in the “most logical” category. But was it really? Or was it simply expedient?

The notion of mindfulness has caught wide attention in the past couple of years. Attempting to be more aware of each moment can certainly prove beneficial. But for me, awareness of choice making is at least as important. This sign brought to mind one particular sort of choice a person can make, sometimes beneficial, sometimes not. That’s the choice to cope, to manage to get through a particular situation without major distress or harm. That sign might be an example of coping. In the face of something that couldn’t be changed (the wind), the poster of the sign managed to keep the eatery in operation and reduce the possibility of harm. Coping has its benefits. It reduces stress in the moment, it can help one persist in difficult times and places.

But in that case,although the paper sign might have dealt with the problem expediently, for that moment, there could be wisdom in making further choices. Install a restraining arm on the door, build an small entry shelter in front of the interior door (a good West Texas choice). preparing for the next time the wind blows could be a wise choice. Metaphorically, wind blows into our lives fairly often. But it’s not necessary to feel defeated by its repeated arrival, to be buffeted about by its gusts. We can make new choices beyond simply coping.

Looking again at that sign, and thinking about choosing to cope, I wonder how often I examine fully the choices I make to cope, and why. Habit? Expediency? Fear?

Have you ever wondered about that? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s not always easy to hang onto the door.

The Things I Find #3

I consider myself lucky to have found the name Lee K. Abbott while reading a writer’s magazine. It mentioned his being a master of the short story. The fact mentioned later in the article, that he sets most of his stories or his characters’ backgrounds in the Southwest, sent me searching. The collection I chose first is All Things All at Once.

With the first story, I was immersed in the setting and taken with the character. As I continued I felt I knew the characters or someone like them. And his narrator immediately calls to mind That Guy, no matter what name he has in a particular story.

I wondered exactly how he accomplished the feat of making his character(s) so vivid. Rereading, I learned that it’s the combination of speech (the character speaks like a person from the Southwest), the setting (his stories take place in towns that seem familiar because of the landscape and the typical businesses and acivities), and most importantly, it’s the choices the character makes based on his perspective on life that made this reader care about the man, whatever his name in that story.

I wondered if other readers find themselves caring about characters in that way, hoping That Guy makes better choices the next time, laughing at his cockeyed view of the world.

Has some author that you enjoy written fiction that affects you that way? I’d love to hear about it. Just click on the comment icon and let me know.