I have to tell you a “hack” I use when I run into a mental block in my weekly writings. If, say, by mid-week I still haven’t found something interesting to talk about, I’ll make a few silly jokes. They are like gapfillers for my sometimes very empty brain. That was what happened last week. By Tuesday I had nothing I really wanted to write about. So instead or going into panic or procrastination toward the weekend, I made up a goofy story called “alternate memory.”
Voila, you know what happened? About half a dozen readers wrote back with comments. My ego assumes they liked it or why else would they take time to talk to me, right? Hmm, maybe from now on I’ll just write dirty jokes.
Reader E said, “I read the book and saw the movie. It’s a heartwarming piece for our age…. Do you know that the author had passed away?”
Reader C: “好題材! 謝謝你! ” Translation: “Good topic, thank you!” She didn’t elaborate on the reason she liked it. Subtle, eh?
Reader T also sent me a comment. Actually he sent two. T is a funny man and a philosopher. First he said: “man’s brain lies below the waist and woman well above the head.” I’ll let you decide whether you agree or disagree with this observation. Then he switched to Chinese and got serious: “四十而不惑。五十而知天命。六十而耳順。七十而從心所欲。” I am not a deep thinker. I once thought Plato was the scientist who discovered plutonium. Neither am I good at Zennish riddles in Chinese. But let me try to translate it the way I think it means: “At age 40, there is no uncertainty. At 50, you understand your destiny. At 60, what comes in the left ear goes out the right. At 70, things are cool, smooth and tight.” T, did I get half of what you meant?
Back to Reader E’s input. I did not know the author of the book Our Souls at Night had died. The movie based on his work carries the same title. So I looked him up on Google. His name was Kent Haruf and he died in 2014 at the age of 71. Despite my quirky quip about the movie last week, the issue of aging is something very real to me and I suppose to quite a few “advanced” readers too. So let’s stop dreading on too many petty things and start enjoying our bonus days before we can’t. And I may pick up Haruf’s book and savor the story again while curling up with my lonely soul in a cold breezy night. What do you think?
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