Because I am a watcher- of- dates and a keeper- of -scores, I could not miss the fact that today’s column of Home Country is number 400 of a personal love affair that began on May 7th, 2009 with a commentary on the uniqueness of early American architecture titled Backroad Gingerbread. Because I am also one who holds the quality of continuity in high regard I am also proud to point out to my readers (and editors) that in that nearly eight years of weekly columns I have never missed a publication date or been late with a submission.
I was unsure just how to weave that notion into a theme until my wife arrived from the post office with this morning’s mail. There inside today’s clutch of Christmas cards was a hand-penned note from old friends: “How thankful we are that our paths crossed!” It hit home with me not only because it speaks so sincerely and accurately of our long-standing friendship with this particular family with whom we have shared precious experiences over many years, but because in one short simple sentence it suggests that some of the most significant and even sacred connections of our lives may not be merely earthly coincidence; and this I believe holds true in my own life.
The circumstances that launched my “love affair” with Talk Radio long ago and those which carried that over to the print “world” years later were born from experiences and connections which took place outside the circumference of my own reach. It was this recognition of the role played by “chance” encounters and unpredictable “players” that led to my column of January 29th, 2016 titled Friends, Connections and Dunbar’s Number in which I explored what Science had to say on the subject. I now believe that the learned Dr. Dunbar was probably right when he noted that most “thinking” individuals have no more than 15 “close” friends at any given time, and an “inner circle” of only 3 – 5. By thinking this through I have a greater appreciation for those rare and wonderful friends who reach out their hands but touch my heart.
Almost weekly I will receive an email, a letter or a phone call or three from readers who have questions or heartfelt comments. Sometimes – as with my recent column of October 21st The Last Walk -- they will descend by the dozen. (It was apparently a message which registered squarely for many readers.) Whatever the case, I try to honor every contact with a prompt response; every friend is important. There are a number of readers/listeners who over the years have become more than casual or chance acquaintances, but whose friendship has become ongoing and uplifting. They are a treasure apart.
I have been asked if I ever pen an article for the sheer “fun of it? The answer is YES: Wandering Through the Wonderful World of Words – December 15, 2012 for one instance . Another that gives me pleasure because in it I reveal deeply personal feelings usually kept private is titled “Smudgie” and the Gold Bead, and was published February 16th,2015. And that forces me to admit that for me, there is very often an emotional price to be paid for my “personal” style of writing; that is my own story told in the first person. Many years ago I asked a friend who was also a “story-teller”, but one who worked with oils and canvas, to read and comment on a Christmas story I had just completed. He started his review with the words “Let me ask you something, Al: Did you cry when you were writing this?” My first unspoken thought was what business is that of yours! Followed closely by, how would you happen to know that!!
When it comes to columns like The Sad, Sad Road to Trebliuka, Jan., 2010 or Remembering the Lost Children of Lidice, July 10, 2013 or dozens of others like them, tears are part of the rite of passage for he or she who ventures into the words required to complete the journey.
Of all these “connections”, I appreciate today the trust and confidence which the editors and staff at SPECTRUM have extended to me, and with it all, the loyalty of what has to be one of the country’s warmest and most welcoming family of communities; Utah’s Dixie.