Handle with care

So… Guess I’ve been pretty silent for some time now.

Once in a while, a writer comes upon the following dilemma: What is worth saying? I’ve been stuck with this dilemma for the last couple of weeks. All thoughts seemed trivial given the current state of things. But there had been something on my mind, slowly gaining momentum. I wish to make no grandiose statements on the subject today. I only ask that if you are reading this, you take a moment. Please.

I looked up a word this morning. That word is ‘care’. As a noun, it is “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something,” or “serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.” As a verb, it is to “feel concern or interest, to attach importance to something” or “to look after and provide for the needs of something or someone.” In all its meanings and applications, the word ‘care’ is central to what I have to say today.

I wonder to myself, did we believe our teachers when they taught us the mantra of the bullied, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me?” Is this the reason we have become so very careless with them? If such was the case, perhaps I could make better sense of it all.

Of all of the stories of Raymond Carver I have read, there is one that I have always clung to when considering the role of a writer. His writing is beautiful but bleak, to say the least. But in “A Small Good Thing,” a family having just lost their son, breaks bread with a baker as he tells them, “Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this.” I love this story because it ends with the faintest glimmer of hope. This story is like my beacon, bringing me back to a sense of purpose when I wonder what is the point of it all, urging me on to remember hope in my writing. People need hope. This story reminds me that in all things, I have a responsibility to the humble legacy I wish to leave behind.

Today, if you are out there reading somewhere, I want to remind you of your own legacy. Gone are the days of letter writing. And I am not sure what to do with the beast of social media that waits at our readied fingertips instead. Everyone seems so quick to type.

As a nation, we are wounded. As people, we are wounded. Why then are we so reckless? Why do we not take a moment to pause and reflect on our thoughts and consider if they will do more harm than good, before we share them with all and sundry? Perhaps it has all gone to our heads. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, we forgot to care.

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