Fourthgraders

On occasion, I slog through writing I’ve posted here or stored in directories on my hard drive. I’m looking for words that have merit, writing of which I might one day be proud. I’m afraid I rarely find those gems to stoke my ego. Instead, I tend to become disgruntled and disappointed that I can produce so much of so little value. It’s not that I think what I’ve written is “bad writing,” necessarily. It’s just irrelevant. Sometimes, I’m fascinated at how nice something I’ve written sounds, only to realize I’ve said nothing but did it beautifully.

But sometimes the irrelevance is satisfying in an odd sort of way. It makes me laugh that I might have written something with sincerity only to discover that it’s painfully silly. For example:

“Here I am, again, mindlessly barking at the wind, bellowing at shadows cast by leaves blowing in the breeze.”

I wrote that about nine months ago in a post I entitled “Affixing Blame on Tuesday.” The post was a rant in which I blamed Facebook for the demise of meaningful conversation. I wrote the excerpt above when I realized I was engaging in utterly unproductive bitching; simply bitching to bitch. I laughed at myself, but at the same time I realized I was griping because I felt isolated and unproductive. I couldn’t very well  blame myself, could I? So I selected a faceless enemy (pardon the precursor to a pun).

I’m inside today, cowering from the rain and chill in the air. But it’s past noon, so I feel safe in showering and venturing out. I have no idea what time has to do with it, but my fingers spilled the words on the screen and I didn’t feel like cleaning up the mess. I may go vote, inasmuch as I think “they” may have corrected the ballot by including the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. “They” left if off on the original ballots.

In closing, let me ask about the language comprehension of fourth-graders. Should a forth-grader know the word forehead? Foreshadow? Forewarn? How about foreplay? How do we decide which words are not age-appropriate and which are perfectly good any time? And who is this “we” person the controls our language and our lives?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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