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Another Day in the Country

Personal stuff

© Another Day in the Country

My grandson and I were on the living room couch, our usual perch, during Christmas break. He was engrossed in some game called Zelda and I was scribbling away on a yellow notepad.

After a while, his thumbs jumping around on some contraption and me scribbling away with a ballpoint pen, he looked over at me.

“Are you writing for your newspaper?” he wanted to know.

I smiled and said that I was.

“What are you writing about?” he asked.

I told him that I was telling the story of the Rooster Wars, (which you’ve already read).

“You mean your paper lets you write about personal stuff?”

Of course, he’s not at an age where he reads newspapers. Even if he were, there isn’t one that comes to his house. Newspapers, to him, are a bygone relic that he hears me talk about.

Even then, we probably wouldn’t talk about it if I weren’t needing to meet a publication deadline, which is a tad more difficult when I’m in California without my trusty computer and easy access to email.

Yes, writing about personal stuff is what I do. Sometimes I’m shocked at how much of myself comes through the lines.

It’s inevitable, this self disclosure, because exploring personal stuff is what writers do. We writers trust that there are many ways that our personal stuff is very similar to your personal stuff, so we explore it together.

All the writing that I’ve done in my lifetime, whether it is for myself or others, free or getting paid a bit, has all been personal stuff in one way or another. It’s my favorite kind of writing, personal stuff.

I tried at one point to write fiction. Couldn’t do it. I love reading fiction and I’m always a little envious of the skill of the fiction writer when I read a well-told story.

But there’s this little deep down conviction that even they are delving the trove of their personal life to get their fiction right.

Personal stuff is who we are singularly, and who we are as a human race. As a species, we have much more in common than we admit. We may have very different backgrounds, yet still there are so many commonalities that we share. I think we forget that sometimes.

We’ve become so saturated during these past few years with the overload of information of what the population of the world contains that I wonder if we don’t wrap ourselves in a bubble of sameness for self-protection. ‘More than I need to know,’ we mumble.

Remember the story I told you about my introduction to video games with my grandson and how inept I felt — let’s try WAS — and he would click some little button on his gaming device and put me in a bubble so that I could safely follow around after him and stay in the game? I could take myself out of the bubble, but then I was at the mercy of all the bad guys in the game and he was hollering in excitement, “Stay in the bubble, Baba!”

Well, some of us are in a bubble, I think, and we need to get brave in 2018 and burst the bubble!

Bubbles come in all shapes and sizes. For some of us the bubble is television. We have it going 24-7. It never stops. It is mind-numbing, especially if you aren’t used to it, and like any drug, we aren’t really aware of what it does to us.

Shut that TV off! Give yourself a newsbreak. And when you turn it back on, change channels.

Which brings me back to personal stuff.

By our very nature as a human, we are in a personal bubble. We then float around in a family bubble, in a religious bubble, in a sports team bubble, in a bigger town bubble, a Midwest bubble, a gender bubble. This protective isolation can go on and on.

I think we need to get brave in this new year and explore some new territory. The only way out of the bubble is to recognize and share our common ground, which of course takes some bravery on our part.

If I come out of my bubble will I get shot at? Maybe. If I tell a friend my opinion will they stay quieter on some subjects? Hope not. If I listen to some other opinions — even safely on PBS instead of only tuning in to FOX news — will I feel unsettled? Probably. But reaching out, launching out, getting out of our personal bubble is crucial. And that seemingly simple exercise on our part may even save the world.

It’s my New Year’s resolution on another day in the country, I’m getting out of my bubble.

Last modified Jan. 25, 2018

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