I've been stuck. For almost two months now I haven't come up with anything that I have thought was worth committing to print. I woke up this morning with the beginning of an idea; enough of one that I felt compelled to get to the computer and try to capture it. That was about an hour ago and as you can see, I am now at the point of idly tapping keys hoping something will come out.
Here's what I have been mulling over. For Christmas this year your Dad created and gave to me a bound volume of this blog. It was wonderfully done, filled with pictures of family, with one of me reading to you, Scarlett, on the front. When I tore the wrapping off and saw what it was, my eyes filled with tears and my heart just filled. It was a gift in the finest sense of the word because of the emotional impact it had. It wasn't until this morning that I began to understand why it had meant so much to me. It was your dad saying to me, "I value you." I had, I suppose, something of the same feeling when he asked me to start this enterprise but the book gave it substance, made it real, in a way it hadn't been before.
I have written before about the joy of loving and being loved, but I had not realized (consciously) how much being valued means. I had particularly not thought about how much it means to me. I know that I am proud and vain, that what people think of me is of too much importance to me. If you want to know how true this is, ask me how often I check to see how many times this blog has been read. Nonetheless, there is a kernel of insight here. I think this particular character defect of mine is probably common to almost all people and is, in fact, a major driver in most creative activity. Actors, artists, writers, athletes, and many others continue to work in their chosen fields long after any economic need to work has been met. Especially people who perform before live audiences seem unable to stop. I believe it is the need to be valued, to have people appreciate them, that drives them. I know it has driven me back to this keyboard when I don't think I have anything left to say. "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." The author of Ecclesiastes understood this several thousand years ago.
I'm not just trying to beat my ego into submission here, or even to excuse my hubris in daring to write at all. (I'm also not saying that those two things don't play a role here.) Since I am usually trying to moralize in these essays, here is the moral of this one; if you value someone or something someone has done for you, let them know. Of course, this "moral" is just a restatement of an earlier blog, "You Done Real Good," so I guess I still don't have anything to say.
Except maybe this. Perhaps that streak of vanity that runs through us isn't all bad. We are brought up to honor humility (bit of an oxymoron there) and to view self-aggrandizement as something bad. To be sure, bragging and blowing your own horn is very unattractive, but putting yourself out there, singing your song or telling your story where it can be heard, is the only way anything gets created. It is the desire to have our performance appreciated that drives us to do our best. It has taken me all these years to figure out that it's OK to put on the show and it's also OK if it isn't always great. In his Gettysburg Address Lincoln said, "The world will little note nor long remember what is said here..." Look how wrong he was.
So. Sing your song; tell your story; dance your dance. Worry about what people think only to the extent that it makes you want to do your best. Do not let worry about what people will think (or even about how good you think your performance is) keep you from trying. Today's title comes from a line I once heard, "Behold the turtle; he makes no progress until he sticks his neck out."