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Friday, July 23, 2010


my point ... and i do have one


I thought it might be funny, when I was about five, to lock myself in the bathroom while having my bath and not answer my mother's insistent knocking and yelling. Who knows why we do these things?

That was, I believe, my first practical joke. Rough, yes--and not terribly well thought out. But we have to start somewhere. I remember lying in that tepid water holding my hand over my mouth so my mother couldn't hear my giggling over her panicked pounding. She stopped after a moment or two, and I heard the back door open and slam. What I couldn't see from the bathroom--and only learned later when my mother recounted the drama for my father--was that she then vaulted herself over the side of the porch railing, grabbed the axe from the woodpile, gave a hearty whack or six at the bush growing against the window, and jammed a ladder under the windowsill.

The window was unlocked, fortunately. After she climbed in and we exchanged polite hellos, she sat her shaky self down on the toilet lid and told me about the little boy who cried wolf. I thought it was a terrific story and asked her to tell me another.

“You’re missing the point, Shannon. That story is about you. If you keep doing this--if you keep telling fibs--people won’t believe you later when you really need help.”

That was my introduction to “the point.” I thought my mother was extremely clever to just plop herself down on the toilet lid (after pounding, vaulting, whacking and climbing, no less) and create that winsome combination of story and point. I admired her ability to tie a seemingly unrelated tale to my mischief. I wanted to do that, too. I wanted to conjure points from thin air.

That desire still lives in me. As a writer, I’m always on a quest to marry the perfect story to the perfect point. Nothing satisfies me more than walking a reader right up to the door of Aha! and watching them walk through. Life is packed with metaphors--random, disconnected ideas that remain detached and unrelated until someone snatches the two and ties them neatly into "the point."

If you write--and many of you do--I hope you make good use of metaphor and simile. But even if you don't write, you live. And a life attuned to metaphor is a life full of wonder. Take a second listen next time something sparks your interest. Why does it? What does it make you think of? How does that relate to your life? Where have you seen that before?

Just for today, be on the lookout. Points, morals, and lessons are everywhere. Find one in your normal happenings and you'll be hooked. You'll be so delighted you'll look for another. Tomorrow you'll look for three.

It's the richest, most interesting way to live. And that's my point.

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1 Comment:

At 7/29/2010 5:01 PM, Blogger Kim had this to say ...

Great point! ;)

 

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