Why I Write
Why do I write? The answer is both simple and complex. Over a quarter century ago, a professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Olmsted, asked me the same question. My response was that I wanted to write for a newspaper or to write a book.
Dr. Olmsted's response was two-fold: start writing, and I will help you. For over half dozen years, we would meet late every Friday afternoon for a couple hours. It was an exceptional learning experience for me. In addition, I did write for a newspaper in Dixon, IL for over a dozen years. And I am still writing articles for my website.
I write about many of the critical issues facing America and the world. They range from civil rights, feminism, political issues like healthcare, and human rights. An example in the past year, I have been to Scotland researching the issue of Scottish independence and Myanmar/Burma in their attempt to move from a military dictatorship to a democracy.
Since my return from Myanmar, my writing output has doubled from the previous year. Travel is a great learning tool. When teaching any of my college classes, I tell my students that there are two means of learning: reading and traveling. Doing merely reading is one-dimensional. They need to travel beyond North America. Where they go in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East is their choice...but travel.
However, many articles that I have written have been about my three grandchildren. Ayanna was my first nearly two decades ago. Back then, I wrote poetry about Ayanna and my love for her. She toddled around my home as she began exploring her new world, which was fun for both of us.
Ayanna and I nearly two decades ago on Wolverton Mountain
However, it was different then. In the past half dozen years, I have danced with death several times and realize that I am not immortal as I once thought when Ayanna and I explored her new world.
Then four years ago, my second grandchild, Jack, entered my world and two years after that Owen came along. And things are radically different today than when Ayanna toddled around with me. While Jack and Owen and I explore their new worlds, there is something different, which haunts me.
This is Jack and I.
This is Owen and I.
Later, Jack joined our walk.
All three grandchildren walked with me, and all three loved the computer. The three of them and I were computer geeks.
I have written about the transformative trip to Myanmar many times. It took me several months before I was able to connect the dots. I have spent a great deal of time attempting to discover why Jack and Owen have changed me so much. I have a couple of old photo albums of when I was very young. In those albums, there are three photos of my grandfathers and I. One of them was a picture of me as a newborn with my mother, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather.
The next two photos are the only ones that I possess of them and me. The one on the left is my Grandfather Campbell at the shore playing with me on the beach. The other is my Grandfather Oakford helping me walk. And that is all that I have. Three photos....
Unfortunately, both grandfathers died prior to me remembering them. Morph that reality with my dancing with death a couple of times recently. I do realize that my life has dwindled down to a decade or two. Trust me; that woke me up.
In some strange way, I now am grieving the deaths of my grandfathers, which occurred 65-years ago. Nevertheless, it is also the lack of any memory of them aside from one slight and faded memory of sitting in the backyard with my Grandfather Oakford.
I have three photos and no real memories. Enter Jack and Owen. I see them every week. I love playing, walking, laughing, going out for lunch, visiting the fire station, planting flowers, baking cookies and pies, finding king cobras, and the list goes on....
I have those memories and so do they...for the present. However, when they reach their teenage years, those memories will have melted away. At four, Jack might have some faded remembrance of me doing something we did together but nothing more. What he will recall 20-years from now might be similar to my one faded memory of sitting with my Grandfather Oakford. That reality hurts me more than even my own death.
In psychology, there is a term, flashbulb memories, which are memories prior to five years old that some children have. These memories are burned into their minds like a flashbulb going off on a camera amid a dark room. However, these memories generally are traumatic times. The times that I have had with Ayanna, Jack, and Owen prior to five were not traumatic times...these are fun-filled moments. Therefore, those times prior to five will be forgotten.
Nearly twenty years ago, I wrote about Ayanna just because of my love for her...nothing more. However, that is before I danced with death. Those dances changed my life and perception of it. I realize that I am not immortal as I once thought.
Things are different now with Jack and Owen. Jack is four, which I was when my grandfathers died. I cannot alter Jack and Owen's brains to be able to remember as adults all of the fun times that we have had when they toddled around their worlds. However, I can write about them and take pictures. Those treasured moments are saved on my webpage.
My time here on Earth is limited. I did not understand that reality when I was young...and neither did you, my reader, unless you are old and have danced with death. Trust me. Dancing with death is a blessing in a strange way. You wake up to the reality of life and its brevity. In a haunting way, one of the greatest blessings of life is the reality of knowing just how limited your days are. It changes one's Weltanschauung.
What do I want for Jack and Owen? I will fill their lives with fun things while I am around. However, more importantly, I will write about those times. I want them to know that they are special children and that I love them dearly.
Nonetheless, that truth about loving them will not be fully understood by them until they have grandchildren...and then they will truly know of my love for them.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Ukraine page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Obamacare page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.