Thursday, May 10, 2012

abbreviation lifestyle

Two days ago, I wrote a little something and submitted it to the local paper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette. The piece** was a little too long for a letter to the editor and yet a little to short for a column submission -- a fact I noted when I sent it off to the managing editor. "That's why they pay you the big bucks," I asserted ... to decide how things should or might be used.

Today, I got a note back:

We will run your short piece as a guest column on Friday.

I like tight columns like this. Easy in and out, but a strong takeaway.

thanks, larry
So there it was, one of my very own mantras thrust back in my face: Stand up, speak up and shut up.

The subject of the piece was the esteem in which I hold an annual letter-carrier effort to collect food for The Survival Center, a place dedicated to those who have and eat less. The letter-carriers drop off orange plastic bags at residences along their routes. People can choose to fill them with non-perishable goods that will be collected later by the letter-carriers and delivered to the center. I like this effort. I like it a lot.

But I am wary of group-hug activities -- things that do their best to push their point of view and sometimes garner or expect a self-anointing applause. I am wary of stuff that is called "good." The orange-bag effort sidesteps the applause and addresses the issue -- at least in my mind. Screw the applause and the virtue ... get 'er done! And the food does just that -- at least in my mind.  And in some ways I find I am surprised at how assured my mind is: Where is the wariness? Why is it no where in sight? I like this effort and will stand up for it ... end of story. Easy in and out, but a strong takeaway.

Interesting how something can excite a tremendous enthusiasm in one person and yet the takeaway from another is short and to the point: He likes/dislikes it. No need to analyze or ponder as I might analyze or ponder ... he likes it. Nuff said. Don't be boring.

Even before the Internet communications of 141 words were invented, the mind had already invented ways of abbreviating what might be a nuanced and delicate and serious situation. On the one hand, "stand up, speak up, and shut up." On the other, don't become a slave to an abbreviated lifestyle -- one that knows what it thinks and is too lazy to question its own abbreviations.

Just chewing my cud, obviously.

**This is what I wrote.

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