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The Literary Fruits Of an Ordinary Life

'When are we going to see your next essay?'' In the past when friends and erstwhile fans asked me that question, I usually struggled for an answer. After all, I am not what one might consider a ''real'' writer. I do not have a regular column, byline, or fan club.

What answers I did give were usually mundane or pedestrian. The reality is that I simply feel inadequate as far as my life experiences are concerned. I find it difficult to find topics that reflect great triumphs (achieved) or tragedies (overcome), or that manifest great progress or betterment for myself and my fellow man.

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I read other essays and I am in awe and envious of the subjects that others seem to write about with such aplomb and savoir-faire. I have, in my view, led a fairly ordinary life, with ordinary aims and ordinary achievements. (Is that an oxymoron?)

When I finally told this truth to friends, they pooh-poohed my anguish with great love and affection. One dear friend reminded me of something I told them many years ago when we were discussing what makes a true writer. I said I thought a real writer could be told to write on ''thimbles'' or ''the color blue'' or ''sardines'' and he or she would dispense 800 words on such subjects, not with ease perhaps, but with a probable amount of skill and expertise.

As I continued to think about why I write, and what I should be writing about, it occurred to me that I have never actually felt that I was writing for the ages or to change the world. I also never wrote to gain fame or wealth. (''Never write to pay a bill, or to be sure you never will....'' wrote one famous bard.)

No, it was something else. Feelings, perhaps? Or a longing to just tell one single solitary soul that there is hope and expectation of goodness in a growing world of distrust and melancholy?

I continued exploring my feelings for subject matter. Some of these feelings rap on the door of my self, requiring exchange or consideration.

I miss my father very much. I find my eyes moisten at children singing and at friendships that ask nothing in return but the friendship itself. I regret things I have said and things I have never said. I have discovered that seeking the ultimate is an eternal task, but at the same time, by the inch, life's a cinch.

If, as is said, in every man's writings lies the character of the writer, then indeed I continue to struggle to find those threads that are woven with who I really am. I have raised one family and am in the process of raising a second.

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I have sought, in the words of Mr. Chips, ''to be brave and strong and true. And to fill the world with love my whole life through.'' Perhaps my ''experiences'' can be called ''blessings.''

Surely, there must be something to write about that.

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