ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

ONE MANS MUDDLED MIND

If my calculations are correct (and that isnt necessarily a given just ask the IRS), this column is the 1,001st of my column-writing career.

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 doesnt 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 Im 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 isnt just what I do its who I am.

Back in 1982, before I had this weekly forum, my Mom died. It wasnt 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, Moms baby the youngest of her eight children. She and I had a special relationship. I was a Mamas 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. Im fine. Really.

And then I hung up the phone and went into my little Selectric typewriter and started to write. I didnt have an audience in mind. I wasnt 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, September 11, 2001, fell on a Tuesday the deadline day for my column (many apologies to the editors who keep hoping Ill turn it in on Monday I WILL keep trying!). I had the TV on as I was sitting in front of my computer trying to get a column done when news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center came through. I sat there, riveted to the TV set, stunned by each new event the second plane hitting the World Trade Center, the plane hitting the Pentagon, the plane crashing near Shanksville, Pa.

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, Im 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 Im out of line (which is all too often, Im afraid). Thanks for overlooking the weak columns and embracing the good ones. But more than anything else, thanks for reading. Its what binds us one to another, and makes this weekly adventure into one mans 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

E-mail Joseph

For more ValueSpeak, please visit http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm


* * * CHECK OUT Joseph Walkers LATest bookS! * * *

Click to find out more or order your copy of these uplifting collections:

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit.

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."