Solitude and idle time are so underrated. Some days I just want to, in the words of writer Gary Snyder, “Sit silent, drink wine, and think my own kind of dry crusty thoughts.”
That mood – that mindset — explains bar stools and potting benches…libraries, hobbies, and long aimless hikes into the hills. It explains husbands. It explains wives.
Relationships would be better if we recognized our mate’s occasional desire to be alone. When we’re not talking, we’re chatting in our heads. It’s not ideal, or very fun. But as they say, it is what it is.
Look, humor is a funny business. I write about the daily lives of ordinary people, to baffled readers too busy to care. You can rack up a lot of credit card debt that way.
Historically, the more truths a writer compiles, the more successful you are. At least spiritually. Economically, not so sure the world rewards truth anymore. Look at the music. Look at the movies. Look at the layoffs at Buzz Feed and Disney.
Look at the fate of truth-tellers in general: John Lennon. Sylvia Plath. Euripides. Elvis. The list goes on and on.
Yet, they managed a very nice celebration of truth down in Fullerton a couple week ago. At ALPHA’S “Day of Authors,” a half dozen writers discussed how writers are the Robin Hoods of truth. They find the treasures you tuck away in your mind and then spill them to the world.
I mean, is that any kind of life? You may as well sell turnips out of the back of your Bronco.
One of the questions at the authors’ event: the future of journalism. In one word: YIKES.
Why? Compiling truths is not economically viable anymore. Bias is where the money is, yet a lot of readers still want their news served straight. Instead, they’re getting a propaganda war.
Anyway, this is getting political, and I shy away from that. Everything is so political these days – the books you read, the channels you watch….that icy can of beer.
We have a very human need to connect honestly with the world, and to deny people that – well, then you have general unrest. When we’re rudderless, we’re ruthless.
I’m not being dramatic. If you can’t base your decisions on common truths, then all you have is mind control and propaganda. How do you effectively pick a president?
So, yeah, there’s a lot at stake in the demise of solid mainstream journalism, currently run by people who think they know better than you and me, who don’t trust us to make our own decisions, who are so passionate in their views they believe they have a moral duty to spoon feed readers and viewers.
Let us pray.
OK, I’m done. Now you go.
At the authors weekend, I also explained how good stories are loaded with surprises, and that my life has been ambushed by surprise, and each person’s narrative – the novel they write for themselves — is really how they deal with life’s inevitable twists and turns.
I also explained my fondness for great endings. I was talking about songs and movies mostly, but I also meant life.
As you may have heard, we all die in the end. So, how do you get there? What sloppy little truths do you mine along the way? How do you handle the lousy stuff? When you walked into a party, were other guests mostly happy to see you?
And then we all left this great authors event, our heads full of fresh ideas, vibrant new books under our arms.
Confession: I sure like people – even the dry, crusty ones like me.
Do me just one favor. Forget our swirling cultural meltdown. Forget the media’s morose, doomsday take on almost every topic. Forget this ill-timed writers’ strike. The sun is out, baseball is back, I got my taxes done.
And the other day, I sucked it up and finally cleaned that cluttered bedroom closet, the one with lots of family keepsakes in the back, a place of tiny truths and maybe one too many surprises.
Let me tell you, there may be nothing quite so poignant, quite so moving, as the smiles in an old man’s wedding album.
Page after page, I wonder: What went into that day? How did they meet? Why was I wearing that awful brown tux?
In what wonderfully poetic way did this one couple manage to see a future together, amid the daily grind, and the gloom of history, despite the vast evidence that marriages often fail?
I found that all in a wedding album in the back of my closet, near the dust balls and the old checker sets.
What’s in the back of yours?
Speaking of books, thrilled to report I have a new one coming out, on the incredible life of “Bear Whisperer” Steve Searles. Sometimes humorous, sometimes very real, it’s the story of an Orange County surfer kid who becomes an Animal Planet sensation for his magical work with bears. It’s a hike through the Sierra with a guy who understands nature like no one you’ve ever met. Remember the beer commercials about “The Most Interesting Man in the World?” This might indeed be him. And the bears are pretty fun too. “What the Bears Know” hits shelves Oct. 3. For advance purchases, please click here. Thanks!
For past columns, go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Email the author at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com