One Compliment, Two Compliments, Three Compliments


I’m used to being blasted for what I write. What critics don’t realize is that they are dealing with a Tour de Force here. If they think they are going to break down my feelings, might I suggest they would have better luck going over to that chunk of granite called Stone Mountain with a hammer and chisel, and chiseling away until the entire mountain is reduced to gravel-sized paving material?

When I wrote for “Senior Living” my e-mail address was at the end of my column. What one might call open-season target practice. With this site, it is more complicated to insult me. Those insults go directly to spam, and are deleted without the reader even seeing them. I won’t tell you how that’s done. If one insulting comment does trickle through, I am keyed to it, and it vanishes shortly afterwards.

When I write something controversial, I can half-way understand how people deliver a criticism off the top of their head. In all probability they have not given much thought to it. Before I even sit down to write anything that I call “heavy”, I’ve done a lot of general reading, and a ton of specific research, so what I write is well-founded. I’d say at that point I know more about it than the person being critical of me.

What I don’t understand is when I write about a decent human being doing something decent for another human being or a group of human beings, and someone finds fault with that. That used to bother me until I realized there are people out there who criticize anything. They must have had a very bad life, and wish to pass it on to everybody else.

I’ve had compliments before, many of them. Quite often they are a word or two, or a sentence or two. The length does not diminish the thought. All of them are very sincere, and I appreciate when anyone will sit down and take time to do that.

This past week, something happened that has never happened to me. By various communication routes I received three very detailed compliments. These compliments came directly from the heart, all three of them.  I’m not sure I am equipped to handle that.

Over the years I have developed a tough exterior, and suddenly I must try and be gentle, and accept what these three ladies have used their writing abilities to tell me. How do I do that?

I can never be as sincere in what I write to them as what they wrote to me. Never in a second thousand years could I do that. I say second because I think I have already been writing for the first thousand years. You’d think in all that time, I would have expressed words equal to the task of thanking these ladies. I don’t think so.

That makes me feel so inadequate, I think I should enroll in Journalism 101 again. When I told the Prof why I was there, he/she would have probably said if you don’t know how to say it now, you will not relearn it here, get outta here.

You may think I’m being facetious. I’ m not. What they said hit me hard, as though these ladies cannot be talking about me. I did recheck the name of the person they were writing to, and it was me.

That does produce a problem. I don’t think the person they described is me, and I have got to step up to the next level to be the person they think I am. Does that make sense? I may be too old, but even when one is age-prone, perhaps there is still a new me to strive for, and these ladies have given me that.

At my age, most of society has discarded me, and if I let them, deposited me on the nearest trash heap. In fact most of the world has already silently asked, “You’re not dead yet?”

But these ladies have given me a reason to crawl out of the debris, dust myself off, and say to the world, “I’m not finished yet, I am not giving up, I’m a better person today than I was yesterday, and will be even better tomorrow.” Why? Because three compliments like I just received can do that to you.

It’s true I’m not twenty anymore, but age has very little to do with proving to three ladies that I am the person they think I am. That is a challenge and invigorating at the same time.

In another story I wrote I wondered what it is I’m supposed to be doing here. That is all well and good, but if the impetus to get me going is not there, how can I look for what it is I’m supposed to be doing?

If you think you are dead already, what is the purpose of getting up in the morning?

Thanks, ladies. By thinking better of me than I deserve, you have given me a reason to get to moving, and then to get to living.

I can hear my critics now. They’re saying, “Darn.”

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