There’s a brief period in the development of a toddler when all they can say is “hi,” but they’ll say it to pretty much anyone. They don’t limit the audience, nor do they go beyond the basic message of greeting to offer lots of their own opinions or judgments or whatnot. I feel like we should all, as much as possible, get back to that state. So, hi.
Tiny things remembered with improbable fondness
It’s possible I remember too much.
If there’s a seamless way to thank someone for a small kindness from years ago without seeming like a total weirdo, I haven’t found it. The response such an expression of gratitude invites is less “Wow, I remember that too,” more “I let you merge into traffic in 2003, and you still think of it and have tracked me down to thank me for it now? Hold on, let me call the police.”
Slight exaggeration, but not really.
So I’m left with all these fond recollections and well-wishes for people I haven’t spoken to in years, and little idea of how to deliver them directly without seeming like a nut.
Is the answer just to pay the goodwill forward to people I’m crossing paths with now?
That’s fine, as far as it goes, but not wholly satisfying. I want the original people to know.
In examining the Facebook page of a local cleanup group, I noticed a number of people referring to those who litter as “trash-holes.” Just a fun in-joke, I’m sure, but the language suggests a personal enmity that doesn’t appeal to me as a motivation to do anything. In fact, it might put me off of the whole enterprise if I thought we were doing a nice thing only because we’re mad at someone. Words make worlds, don’t they?
My latest read is How Magicians Think by Joshua Jay. The universe of books about magic for the general public that aren’t organized around teaching tricks is quite small. Jim Steinmeyer (Hiding the Elephant, The Glorious Deception) has penned some bracing ones on magic history. In How Magicians Think, Jay’s project is more immediate: he’s trying to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of magic, in the manner of a film appreciation course or a documentary dive into a lively, obscure corner of existence. He breaks it down in 52 chapters that offer thoughtful answers to the sorts of questions people tend to ask a magician, on the odd occasion when they manage to encounter one. It’s quick, fun reading.
(Oh, I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by the way. The ending was a bit tidy, wasn’t it?)
The vaccine is free
In my city, there is currently a 32-year-old father of two, who hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID, in a medically-induced coma, with his family asking for prayers and help with medical bills. I hope he recovers, and I hope his plight inspires more people around here to get vaccinated. Nobody is invincible, even in the 18-34 age group.
Are these Sunday posts working for you? You are not leaving (or joining) the list in droves, so I assume all is relatively okay. But your thoughts are still welcome.
More like “Trash-angels” I think, but not as catchy.
Side note: I remember when my sister was just learning to talk, and when my mom took us for a walk my sister would call every man we came across “daddy”. (Much to my mother’s embarrassment).
I’ll just say hi.
Chris Wilcox says
Daddy is any non-Mommy person. I follow a similar system of nomenclature myself.
About “Tiny things remembered…..” This is just my opinion but I personally don’t think it’s ever too late to thank someone for a small (or large) kindness no matter how much time has passed. In fact, I think it’s very important to do so if possible, if you find yourself remembering something that way and feeling you’d really like to thank the person and let them know you still remember their kindness. No matter how long it’s been, I see it as just more good and more love going out into the world. The times when I have let someone know that I still remember their kindness and how much it meant, and still means to me, I have only found them to be touched that I still remember and that it meant that much to me. And sometimes it’s been decades later. (Ok, so I don’t know if they called me a “weirdo” afterward, but that doesn’t matter.) Another thought I had: If we feel that and have the urge to let them know how much we appreciated something (and them), which I believe is coming from our heart, how do we know that the reason we’re feeling it and thinking of it isn’t because that person really needs to hear something like that right now?
I’m enjoying your Sunday posts. Please keep them coming. 🙂
Chris Wilcox says
Good thoughts. Thank you for your encouragement and sharing.
After many years of having received your postings, I am for the first time responding with a quick note. I’ll keep this short and simple but thought to let you know that I enjoy the pieces you write.
How I came to be a recipient of your think pieces are lost in the mists of time. How, indeed, did it happen? The memory fades, but I suspect it had something to do with you writing about country music many, many moons ago.
Or did I get that completely wrong? That would sure be embarrassing.
Regardless, I am letting you know, from the hinterland of South Africa—yes, you have a wide reach, a continent and ocean or two distant—that I derive considerable pleasure from the texts you compose. In a very different way I make my living with writing, but, as I note, of a very dissimilar kind.
You must be inundated with responses to your texts, so this is nothing more than a vote of strong support for you to regularly put, proverbially speaking, pen to paper. I invariably look forward to receiving messages from your computer.
Chris Wilcox says
Thank you, Gideon!
I can’t tell you how your kind message has cheered me. I’m never quite sure who I’m writing to or why, so it’s great to hear that anyone finds these dispatches from my little corner of existence worth reading. It’s wonderful to think of my words making it to South Africa on days when my body barely makes it a mile or two from home!
Yes, it must have been the country music that originally led you here. I linked to this site when winding down my previous one. (I’m still listening to old favorites, but have been mostly cured of the need to opine on all the music news of the day.)
Thanks again for the shot of motivation to keep writing.