My mention in this space that Gwen the Beautiful and I are going to Washington State for an indefinite time of rest and recuperation has garnered an array of responses, pretty much running the gamut from this, from “Yvonne:”
“It was with a heavy heart that I read your column on March 5 … I have read every single column you have written…have enjoyed every single one … Please tell me that you will still be writing even if it has to be from Port Paradise. Paradise will not be the same without you and Gwen, the Beautiful and your assorted cast of characters.
“I wish you continued good health as you recover from your surgery. My husband had the same kind of surgery … in … 2006. He claims to be feeling the best he has in years …
“I have found as I have grown older, that, as much as I sometimes resist change, good things are always waiting for me when I get brave enough to forge ahead. I am sure that will be true for you and Gwen.
“Bless you, and I pray that you will continue to use the gift of writing to touch people where they truly reside-deep in their hearts.”
To this, from “Benjamin:”
“So, that’s it, then? You’ve surrendered your life to Fear just like everyone else because your body let you down. I thought you, of all people, would realize your heart attack was just another Lesson the Universe handed you. Instead, you threw it all away … and ran for ’safety.’
“I’ve read your columns since the very first one and enjoyed them … I even changed some of my behavior because of what you wrote. No more.
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am or how much you’ve let me down. Go to your ordinary life in some ordinary town and know this was one Lesson you didn’t learn.”
Even though I’m probably the world’s biggest believer in a good laugh, at heart I am, in the words of the Coen Brothers, “a serious man,” and I’ve taken these two emails, and every message in between, very seriously indeed.
Many people might look into themselves and question their actions, as in, “Oh my God! Am I doing the right thing? Have I gotten from this experience what the Universe wanted me to?”
Others might take the opposing perspective: “Who do these people think they are, judging my response? How dare they curse or even bless me for what I do and say?”
For a few seconds there, I followed each of these paths, but ultimately I found myself on a different one altogether. We’re all different from each other, “snowflakes” as many people have said (some with great sincerity and others while being snarky as all get-out) and throughout my life more often than not I’ve been so different from most other people that I’ve felt like a member of a whole ‘nuther species.
Maybe it’s my Asperger’s.
More likely, it’s simply because I’m a writer.
In this situation, because I’m a writer I ended up examining both what I’m doing and people’s reactions to it in terms of my responsibility as a creative being, as an artist … because the one thing I know best about myself is that an artist is what I truly am.
As an artist, I have two responsibilities.
One is to my audience. Writing is all about communication, and if I don’t have an audience, or can’t establish a link with an audience, then I’ve got nothing at all. Might as well daydream my little adventures, or misadventures, and let them evaporate into the smoke of pure imagination.
My other responsibility is to myself. To be honest and true and write what I believe. Most importantly, if I’m going to write about my life, then I also have to live in terms of what I believe. This is what I’ve done and will continue to do, no matter where I reside or where my work appears.
For ole Larry B, it boils down to this: Life is a hike up a steep, treacherous mountain. As I hike, I chronicle the trip for all who want to read about it. I work hard to maintain our connection, to entertain a bit, teach a bit, and learn a bit more.
My thanks to everyone for caring about what happens to the Brodys next. It’s good for all of us when we can laugh, or cry, or grow furious together, even — maybe especially — as I fall.
Larry Brody is an author, veteran television writer and producer . He, his wife and their dogs, cats, horses and chickens live in Marion County. The other residents of the mythical town of Paradise reside in his imagination, however, and any resemblance to actual places or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Originally published March 26, 2010