For nearly a half century, I’ve been blessed to be a full-time journalist, author and blogger.
With the possible exceptions of Maria and my daughter, that has been the greatest gift of my life. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to find work that I love, every single day, and still love as much or more than before.
Some years ago, I decided to pay this good fortune back by teaching, by passing along what I learned writing all those books and posts.
Today, one sweet culmination of that work, the very talented students in my writing class will read from their books and essays at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, N.Y. at 2 p.m. I am very much looking forward to it. Seeing these good and hard-working people blossom as writers is an incomparable joy.
Writing has saved as well as shaped my life, given me focus and the sacred opportunity to learn about myself and face the truth about me. The most important part of being a writer, I tell my students, is to be authentic.
“Above all,” wrote Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov, “don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own life comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
I am sorry to say that this was me for a good part of my life, it was my story. I am happy to say writing help me see who I really am. I had lost love in my life. When I learned not to lie about myself, I found love.
Today, I might read a paragraph or two from my next book, “Gus and Bud: The Lessons Of Bedlam Farm.”
“If you do what I do in this world,” I write in the book, “and if you are who I am in this world, there will be people who dislike you, even hate you. This is especially true if you don’t fit in, as I have never fit in.
This has been a part of my life as long as I have been writing and living as an adult, and writing online, even before. I think it is now a part of the life of every public person in America, even people like me, who are not exactly Hollywood stars.
But I do not live in the shadows, and it is my calling to put myself out there. I sometimes feel that there is a big red bullseye on my back.
For me, courage is about the ability to see hope and joy through the clouds of argument and conflict and out to the other side. The courage to sometimes despair but also persevere. I think that is the core of my spiritual life. For me, and for now, that is a valuable lesson to have finally learned.”
Many of you have been following my writing for some time now, from the darkest days to the brighter ones. I thank you for coming along, writing has given us a bond that can never break.
Above all things, I will never lie to you or to me.