Sunday, October 13, 2013


October 13, 2013

Dear friends,

No more snow—yet. Trees are busy changing the landscape to gold and red and brown, however. Each day larger flocks of jittery noisy birds appear on the power lines. Twilight is cooler and sunsets come earlier. This morning sunrise and the clock face appeared to be in odd disagreement as well.

I am not distracted by autumn’s drama queen behavior or yesterday’s beguiling seventy degree temperature, however. I sense something in the air and I think I know what it is, so I have moved the begonias in from the porch.

I thought I overheard them complaining among themselves about the crowded window corner where they must spend the winter. In their defense, the porch does provide more comfortable living quarters. Nonetheless, I suspect that in their own knowing way they are relieved to be inside. Today the autumn sun is glorious and a warm lazy day is promised again tomorrow. But I wonder—do you think plants remember? 

Now.  Pause.  Think.  Time for the DELETE key? How to decide?

Last week I considered with you the possibility that ease of erasure (that trusty DELETE key) might encourage careless thinking, a pattern of self-talk in which I say to myself, “Oh, don’t stop to think—just write. You can always delete what you don’t like.” In my experience with myself, anything that reinforces writing without first taking careful thought poses at best the risk of increased foolishness and, at the worst, danger of serious error.

But last week’s opening paragraphs, like today’s, poses another question regarding the DELETE key. Mistakes are not the only issue. Not all relatively error-free copy merits saving. 

It is true that earth moves on in its ceaseless turning, and the seasons change. In these beautiful Colorado days I watch that change, I sense its power, its subtle beauty, and in it sense as well the changing seasons of my life.

Is there value in committing that truth to screen? Having reviewed what I wrote and approved it for accuracy (at multiple levels) shall I hit the SAVE key?

And, supposing I choose to SAVE, shall I SEND?

In my experience, the dilemma of the DELETE key is more than matched by the challenge of the SEND key. The DELETE key forces me to ask, “Is this true? Is it accurate?” The SEND key insists upon an even more difficult question: “Is this of value? What is its worth?”

Value is not a simple matter. Facing a computer screen, people often hit the REPLY, REPLY ALL, or SEND keys rather than deal directly with issues of worth. 

The question, “Is this interesting?” doesn’t help much with the issue. An accurate account of moving the begonias in from the porch is not likely to prove either entertaining or amusing for any of you patient readers. But the absence of interesting content is not in itself evidence of lack of worth.

Low entertainment value does, however, underscore the potential embarrassment of taking oneself seriously. The common activities of life are more often than not mundane and unexciting. I cannot expect that any of you will find it entertaining nor, in fact, interesting that I moved the begonias.

However, it is also true that having moved the begonias, I experienced a moment of sensed wisdom as I rested in the porch swing. Beyond language, I understood again that life is fragile, that the seasons of life pass quickly, and that protecting life is a worthwhile thing even if only for a brief time. Do I dare risk taking that moment seriously, and risking, in turn, that some of you will find value in that as well?
I think that is worth saying—it merits the SEND button. But here is my difficulty—will sending you the accurate account of moving the begonias insure that you receive the message that from my world view is the thing of value?

Wishing today for a wisdom-check program that I could use before I push the SEND key.

See you next week.


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