Aesop’s Fables, Revisited

I was reading to my son from a book of Aesop’s fables and came upon the one about the fox and the grapes. To make a short story even shorter (spoilers, haha!), the fox belittles the grapes because they are out of his reach. Those grapes are probably sour anyway, he thinks bitterly. I’m not sure what message my son got out of the story. He was too busy slapping his drool-coated hands all over the book.

Then I realized something as I tried to pull the page out of his slippery hand so I could turn to the next story. I’m an awful lot like that fox. If somebody has a nice house, I always think, Who the hell would want to pay for that huge house, to heat it and cool it and clean it? I’m glad I don’t live there. Or people who are always going on trips. I wonder if Dave Ramsey is right… did they most likely go into debt to pay for that vacation? Haha, suckers! Internally, I’m envious of these people’s nice things.

I try to pass my envy off as gratitude for what I have, but it’s really just bitterness. One of the hardest things for me to do is to be happy about another person’s success. Their gain literally takes nothing from me, but it still affects me, as if I’ve fallen down a notch on a ranking list that exists only in my head.

Count your blessings! they say, and for me, that involves going home and being happy with my family and forgetting all about the outside world, once again proving the point that others’ success and material possessions have nothing to do with me at all. It is all so easily forgotten.

So with that said, my new goal for the next couple weeks is to purposely try to be genuinely happy for others, rather than belittle them. And be more grateful for the good things that I have, which are many.

Freewriting

One of the lies that is often told to writers is that to write, you must have lots and lots of time. The reality is that pretty much nobody has lots and lots of time, so wannabe writers have to make do with 5- or 10-minute intervals here and there. If you are on a time crunch, sometimes the best thing you can do is freewrite, or just write whatever comes to mind, whether it’s good or bad or just a rant about how little time you have to actually do “real writing.”

Good ideas can come from freewriting. Many wannabe writers believe that good ideas will strike out of nowhere, and that does sometimes happen, but to attract more ideas, a writer actually has to, well, write. Then the muse is fully awakened and your subconscious (is that the same as the muse?) can work on more interesting ideas behind the scenes. So when you get a chance to freewrite, you may find that your stream of consciousness holds something valuable.

So don’t discredit freewriting as “not real writing.” Anything that can help you arrive at the next great idea is worth the time spent, even though that time may not be the idyllic (and envied) 2-hour stretch that many “real” writers claim to have.