I’ve been writing this column every other week for more than a decade. For some reason, a decade sounds much longer than 10 years. In 260+ columns I’ve written about cars, grandchildren, my dog and my husband. I’ve explored the differences between shopping minutes and football minutes; what dementia is doing to my mother; why men like to burn things up.
I wrote about the Pukers for Peace who protested when Dubya decided we needed to get into it with Iraq; let my dog pick the presidential and gubernatorial winners (she was right both times), turned 50 in a column and detailed the mysteries of computers, the frustration of Dial-Up and the joys of living in another country for six weeks.
Readers have been exposed to my pondering the legacy of 9/11, the nature of conflict, the reason for insomnia and for target practice in rural neighborhoods. There have been columns about the seasons, bad weather, good weather and bikers out enjoying the weather. I’ve even written a column about running out of things to write in a column.
I’ve won three statewide awards for my column, which leaves me grateful, but puzzled. Puzzled because I’m still not sure why people read columns or blogs. The column is my opinion, and while it’s helpful for a word-oriented person to write about life in order to clarify one’s thoughts and process experiences, it’s a self-indulgence that I get paid to do. What I don’t completely understand is why anyone else would read such things.
Do we read each other’s musings because in them, we can occasionally find ourselves — sometimes more clearly articulated; sometimes phrased in ways that make us laugh at things that aren’t really funny; sometimes holding things up to the light that we’ve kept in the back of our minds for later. In my case, I believe I read to think.
I read Chris Daley’s column every week because he is a wonderful writer — both wise and funny; I usually read our publisher’s column because… he’s the publisher, duh, and because I like his humorous way of sharing a man’s experiences about parenting. I read Mike Roberts’ columns because he’s interesting and always shows his heart and I read Dave Barry’s column whenever I find it because he makes me laugh. Columnists that make me both laugh and think are my favorite read. I appreciate the people who can call out something that should be given serious attention, but present it so that it doesn’t seem like a fault-finding sermon. Brain strain without pain — it’s a good thing. I wish Mr. Faugstead in my high school World History class had employed that combination. To be fair, the Hundred Years War wasn’t exactly a yuck a minute, unlike the antics of our Congress or the current race for the presidency.
Time is precious and limits my own reading, so I get a thrill when someone says they’ve enjoyed one of my columns. Really, the thrill comes when someone says they’ve read one of them. To all of you who have read an occasional column, to those of you who have commented on a column, either positively or negatively, and to those of you who share some of the same strange imaginings and concerns I write about, thank you. Thank you very much.
Wendy Schultz is a biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat.