Archive | 3:12 pm

Being Human

13 Feb

No talent there . . . or is there?

“Mom, how come Uncle Mike drinks so much?”

She looked at me for the longest time, probably deciding on how much a twelve-year old needed to know.  Skeletons, it seems, are usually retrieved from the closet one bone at a time.

“It’s because of the war, Bill.  Uncle Mike drinks too much because of the things he saw in World War 2.”

The initials PTSD were not spoken back in 1960.  Words like “shell-shocked” were more common, an ineffectual way to describe someone who has seen more than he was prepared to see . . . more than any human should ever see.

Uncle Mike eventually sobered up and lived the last twenty years of his life sober, the father of fifteen kids, a new car salesman in Torrance, California.  He had a great sense of humor, Uncle Mike did, and he was a gentle soul . . . I remember that clearly . . . and I also remember that years and years after that war ended, on occasion, Uncle Mike would hear a car backfire, or hear the loud clang of a garbage can lid, and he would get this blank look on his face, and just like that he was back in the countryside of France in full gear, wondering when a bullet with his name on it would finally relieve him of his fear.

I mention all this because I find human beings fascinating, each and every one of them, complex beings with the capacity to amaze, and as a writer I would be ignoring one of the great resources we all have at our disposal every day . . . our fellow travelers on this planet.

I think about Uncle Mike from time to time.  I wonder how many people asked that same question about me:  “Mom, how come Bill drinks so much?”  And the answer, really, is as complex and as simple as this:  Because I am, because we all are, human!

Have a great week of writing!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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