The most oft-posed question by faithful Crossroads to Somewhere (CR2S) readers is “How do you come up with your weekly column subjects?”
I really don’t have a stock answer. Nor a revealing one. In responding to some inquiries I sometimes rely on a flippant reply like, “They just happen.” (Which is often true.) Reaction to newsworthy events (March 11 earthquake) is automatic as is commentary on subjects of mutual interest (aches, wars and humans). Of course there is no limit to sharing the varied and wild antics of a not-quite-average human being (DMV). All of which is made more difficult because of the presumed need to lend a Japonese flavor whenever called for.
So you see there is no strict or all-embracing criteria. Like at a bowling alley. You shun the gutter and aim at the pocket. The strikes and spares will be interrupted by an occasional split, but such is life. Golf. Ping Pong. Horseshoes. Cooking. Getting married.
The main weekly challenge is always to be interesting and entertaining, no matter the subject matter. A simple formula but mighty difficult to fulfill, believe me.
But I really haven’t answered the basic question of “How,” have I?
Well, folks, if you really wanna know the honest, unadulterated truth the answer is, “In bed.” Yup, straight and simple, prone. The particulars:
On my nightstand is a lamp, telephone, latest book selection, magazines, daily Sudoku, writing pad and erasable pen. I lay head to the north on the right side with a flat TV at the foot of a double bed. And since we’re being so unnecessarily revealing, in boxer shorts and floppy T-shirt.
Every night, upon dousing the light, I challenge myself to think of a topic worthy of writing about. Every night since accepting the challenge of writing a weekly column for The Rafu Shimpo. On the pad will be scribblings from something read, heard or a reminder to pursue a thought. Writing in the dark can be disconcerting, not to mention impossible to read later, but I never turn the light on (even when going to the benjoe!). I’m such a lousy sleeper I try to follow all the tricks of maintaining healthy sleep habits (except warm milk and counting Julias).
Anyway, Rip, where were we? In bed but still not asleep, wondering whether to devote a column to something from the long ago (favored by peers) or the amazing gizmos of today that cause feelings of inadequacy. And a state of dumbness.
Cross my heart and hope to die, the elusive column topics are sometimes switched two, three or four times by Monday midnight deadline. Of course there is a constant parade of other thoughts and concerns traveling through the tangle of my amyloid and tau proteins. I mean, geez, there is another world out there, you know. The main difference, as we speed past Go, is the emphasis some of us place on the past more than the here and now.
So we’ve traveled the journey from “How?” to “Where?” but I have a feeling you’re still somewhat discombobulated, worse off than when I launched into this so-called explanation. So solly, Charlie. CR2S has a (bad) habit of assuming too much sometimes. Like we’re in private conversation rather than you being restricted to simply reading. I have yet to solve the challenge of writing a facial expression, word inflection or a written wink-nudge-wink. It’s no wonder most sensible people prefer face-to-face talk rather than writing letters. Reading between the lines can be awfully treacherous — and misleading — but it’s still a favorite practice of mine. (Not being treacherous or misleading.)
There we go again. Sheesh! Amateurishly philosophical when the world has become so open and simplified thanks to Facebook, Twitter, iPhone. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the reality that time is whooshing by without so much as a sorrowful sayonara; that old-fashioned sharing is limited and growing more so.
I really didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how the dinosaurs felt when their world came to an end. The plight of Native Americans didn’t pique my interest either despite becoming a (softball) Apache in Poston. But there certainly was an ethnic awakening when I was once mistaken for an Indian … in Chicago. (“Get ’em up, Scout!”)
Without rereading the above too carefully, I think it kinda represents what CR2S is all about these days. While dedicated to exchanging thoughts and observations with all you nice people, I’ve reached that scrivener’s stage where, like osteopathy, there’s not a heck of a lot of flexibility or give. Brittle? Only if it’s peanut. A know-it-all? Obese chance!
There’s gotta be a happy medium. Somewhere between comfortably experienced and frightened by that bent, bedraggled old coot who carries a scythe at the end of every year.
Having reached the stage that is considered statesman-like is certainly a challenge to maintain. And I still hold onto, with a vengeance, the hope for an exciting future, no matter its uncertainty and certain brevity.
If, perchance to dream, an apology of sorts is in order, Fergedaboutit!
I think, a while back, I made some sort of commitment. You know, pretending to be self-effacing but in reality being a selfish bombast. A Sagittarian reminder:“Check your state of mind before you walk in the door, pick up the phone or start up the computer.” Duly, though belatedly, noted.
CR2S hereby promises to discuss the whys and wherefores of writing a weekly Rafu Shimpo column in an upcoming effort. (Promise.) (Maybe.)
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.