I've been thinking philosophically this morning. Perhaps it's a side effect of coaching a bunch of students through Plato, whose main character is Socrates, the inventor of the Question Everything method. Or it could be the new pumpkin spice coffee I'm drinking.
Either way, here's my question. When you go away mad, are you only hurting yourself?
I have a couple of examples I'm trying to string together. One involves the Halloween Horror activities that are in full swing at the local theme parks. Last year, one of the ad campaigns featured a truly creepy, blood-tinged, eyes-with-no pupils image that appeared on billboards all over town, including several I had to pass daily.
Although usually I'm on the side of free speech, this image tested my mettle. I changed my route home so I wouldn't have to drive by it. Because much as I hated it, it was hard not to look. And once I looked that first time, the image was in my brain so even if I didn't actually look, I could still picture it.
There was some pushback here in town by parents who said their children were upset by the images (so it wasn't just me). The last straw was when the same image started showing up as an ad when I checked weather.com. Checking the weather by putting in my zip code triggered the ad, apparently.
I sent off a smoking (for me) e-mail to the Weather Channel, complaining that it was bad enough to see that horrible image around town, but having it come into my own home on my very own computer was simply too much. I told them I would be using another source for the weather until Halloween was over. It definitely made me feel better, both to write and to stay away.
I don't know if quitting did any good, but this year the billboards are decidedly less creepy.
A second example involves "The Writer's Almanac." I used to be a fan, first of the radio broadcast, and then through an e-mail subscription. A few years ago, the poems began to contain glaring typos on a fairly consistent basis. In a way, this was even worse than the billboards.
A poet invests a lot of time and energy into getting just the right words in just the right order. It's part of the magic of poetry that, when done right, the result becomes more than the sum of its parts.
To have the work published with errors is really a shame. It's doubly a shame when the source of the incorrect version is someone who glorifies language and English majors on a regular basis; in this case, that's Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame. I know he probably doesn't type in the poems himself, but maybe he should. It's his name at the top, after all.
I sent a couple of e-mails, politely requesting more careful proofreading. But the errors continued, and I quit in a huff. No more subscription. No more daily poems. A slightly smaller perspective on life.
Now "The Writer's Almanac" has come back onto my radar and I'm going to give it another try. I'm eager for the chance to discover a new poet or poem every day, and to open a window into the world from a different perspective. We'll see if the typo situation has been resolved.
As for conclusions drawn from these experiences? Still working on those. Right now all I can say is, "It depends what you're leaving when you walk away."