One of my favorites essays, written early into my experience as a blogger after I started my "Running with Stilettos" website, was called "Ripple Effect." It went on and on in colorful and expository fashion for a good thousand words, but boiled down to a sentence or two it was about how what we say and do often carries forward in some way getting people to look at things--and sometimes themselves--in ways other than what they had before. Yes, I know that's a convoluted sentence structure, but hey, it's not Shakespeare, it's blogging. Stream of consciousness is a given on the internet highway.
At any rate, in the essay I explained how a friend had encouraged me to think about law school after many years as a writer, and I ended up with a law degree. How while in law school I had repeated some words of advice my grandmother had given my aunt, and it sparked someone else to get a degree of their own. And on and on.
And this morning, I was delighted to learn that another writer, half the country away, was using something I wrote to illustrate an essay of her own. Angela Turpin blogged about "Second Childhood" on her own website. Here's the link:
Turns out we'd both been journalism students as undergraduates, and both left college with dreams of setting the world on fire in the vein of "All the President's Men," and both had those glamorous goals upstaged and diverted by real life events. Now we both write in different ways from what we ever foresaw. The essay of mine that she reached back to was "Objects in the Rear View Mirror..." which detailed the surprise and shock I felt at hearing of the suicide of a fellow journalism student years later when we were both at the top of our respective games, and how some times the fact that things don't go as planned are more than a person can handle.
Resiliency is a funny thing, you never know who's got it or whether you've got it until it's crunch time. But Angela has it and knows its value, and the value too of having practical skills and your feet on the ground. Still, my favorite paragraph is her last one, where she imagines "what if" we could do it all over.
If there is such a thing as a second childhood, I imagine it would be a blending of the ideal and the practical, the belief in the power of transformation and the knowledge of the hard work that goes behind the magic. If such a second childhood exists, I want to be a part of it, and I want my children to grow up knowing neither you nor your idealism has to die in the face of reality, but that you can find a way to marry these opposites in daily living by reaching for the stars with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
Way to go Angela. The ripple effect of your words is out there now too!
Causes Mary Wagner Supports
Washington County, Wisconsin Human Society
Crohns and Colitis Foundation
Chicago Writers Association