A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
If my calculations are correct
(and that isn’t necessarily a given – just ask the
OK, there were all of those other columns I wrote during six years as a TV critic for a daily newspaper. But come on – I was writing about TV. That doesn’t really count, does it?
I started writing this weekly column in 1990. I wish I could tell you that I keep doing this week after week because I feel like I’m really making a difference in the world, or there are people out there who need my weekly words. But that would be pretentious . . . if not an outright lie. Because when it comes right down to it, I do this for me. It is almost completely selfish. I write because I need to write. This is how I cope. This is how I wrestle with the daily dilemmas of life. It isn’t just what I do – it’s who I am.
Back in 1982, before I had this weekly forum, my Mom died. It wasn’t unexpected – she suffered with a lung disease, and we knew the end was coming. When my big brother Bud called me in the middle of the night to let me know that she had passed, I took the news stoically. And Bud was concerned about that. I was, after all, Mom’s baby – the youngest of her eight children. She and I had a special relationship. I was a Mama’s boy. And I was, no doubt, her favorite.
Pay no attention to what my sister Kathy says on the matter. I was. End of discussion.
Bud understood that. Which is why he was troubled by my calmness at the news.
“Are you OK?” he asked after a moment of silence.
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m fine. Really.”
And then I hung up the phone and went into my little Selectric typewriter and started to write. I didn’t have an audience in mind. I wasn’t writing for publication. I was just writing because . . . well . . . I write. I sat down, closed my eyes and let my feelings and emotions flow out of my fingers. By the time I was done I was ready to face the world Mom-less.
Or at least, as ready as I was going to be.
By way of contrast,
So much death. So much confusion. So much fear.
So of course, I wrote. Only this time I had someone – or many someones – to whom I could write. This column became my outlet, as I let flow all that I was feeling in a world suddenly, frighteningly, horrifically turned upside down.
That is what the column has been for me – all 1,001 of them. Not all of them have been good, of course. Some of them have been frankly awful. Others have been painfully self-indulgent (like this one, I’m afraid). But they have all reflected what I was thinking and feeling and experiencing at the time. You have been my outlet, my therapist, my own personal crisis hot line. Which means I probably owe you some kind of counseling fee.
Good luck collecting on that.
I hope there has been some benefit for you in all this – maybe a word or two of comfort, or a little cheer when you needed it. Perhaps by sharing my experiences and thoughts I have triggered some pleasant memories and thoughts of your own. That would at least be some compensation for what you have given me.
At the very least I owe you my thanks. Thanks for being there. Thanks for listening. Thanks for writing back occasionally – even those of you who scold me when I’m out of line (which is all too often, I’m afraid). Thanks for overlooking the weak columns and embracing the good ones. But more than anything else, thanks for reading. It’s what binds us one to another, and makes this weekly adventure into one man’s sometimes muddled mind a shared experience.
One I hope to share with you at least 1,001 more times.
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— © Joseph Walker
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