If someone pats me on the head, I am as likely as the next person to purr ... unless, of course, I'm playing the 'serene and unaffected' card. This morning, for example, I received an email from a woman who read my column in the local newspaper yesterday:
And I purred within.Dear Adam,I am still thinking about your column one day after I read it. It takes guts to write with such honesty.Thanks,
Newspaper articles generally have the shelf-life of a fried egg ... you read it, fit it in among the opinions and biases and forget about it.
When I first became a reporter a lot of years ago, I had a hard time realizing that what I wrote excited almost zero response. And many times, I had put a lot of energy into a particular article ... or taken its subject matter very seriously. How come no one cared as much as I did? At the time, I felt bruised and overlooked and unimportant as if, because I had written about something, that something took on an added importance ... and I deserved the credit.
But today, the words of praise fueled another reaction: I honestly could not imagine or remember what, precisely, I had written, let alone why anyone might impute "courage" to it. To write what I think is just to write what I think ... and the odds favor my changing my mind any moment now.
Doesn't everyone have to learn this lesson -- that no matter how much sweat and caring and yowling and logic they put into one subject or another, there will always be someone out there who doesn't give a shit and, perhaps more important, there is no particular reason why they should?
It reminds me a bit of the Zen Buddhist teacher who was asked how important Zen practice was and he replied, "It's important, but it's not that important." It's nice to get the ego stroked ... but it's also nice to find a less elevated setting for whatever it is that is called "the ego"