Issues, Man, Issues…

I had a friend when I worked at a different job about a decade ago who would always say this as we walked past his desk:  “Issues, man, issues…” He was from another country and thought that most of our daily seriousness was completely unfounded.  That most of our “issues” were made up and self-imposed, and probably–rightly so, for most of us–completely self-focused and not all that important.  His mocking false-seriousness was almost always enough to make us laugh.

“Sit,” he would say, “Have an apple (or corn, or orange, or almonds, or whatever he had at his desk that day).  It will make you feel better.  The sun is shining, it is a new day, we are still breathing, life is good.” 

I really miss him sometimes.  And I think about how petty some of my concerns can be.  How my dogs are getting my floor dirty.  How my kids are eating the fancy crackers I meant to take to work next week.  How long I spent folding the laundry only to find it tumbled about in the laundry basket the next day.  It doesn’t really matter.  I am glad to wake up to my dogs, my kids, my less than perfect pile of clean clothes, because it means I have them. 

And I have my hands, my mind, and enough wherewithal to come up with stories and ideas and classes I want to teach.

I think the take away is to let all of those “issues” fade away into the “not that important” part of my brain, where hopefully they will just disappear.  Instead of fretting about…anything…I would rather delve into my art. 

That pile of clean clothes has me thinking of the novel I plan to work on during November, aka, Nanowrimo:  National Novel Writing Month.  It’s about a homeless girl who has decided the best mode of survival is to not seem homeless.  I wonder how she would manage clean clothes.  I’m going to take that as a writing exercise today.  And I challenge you to consider some day-to-day thing we take for granted and how it impacts one of  your characters.  It can be anything from change for the bus, a cell phone that is lost, a broken shoe, a “spilled-upon” pair of pants right before an interview…anything, really.  How does this “thing” impact your character?  Do they see it as a non-issue, or a major one.  The outcome can be hilarious or tragic…

Good luck with your issues!

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