There’s a bird in the neighborhood on a frenzied calling streak. I’m familiar with most of the feathered fliers nearby, the way they look, their habits, the sounds that rise from their throats, but this one is new to me.
I’m wrestling conflicting plot turns in my latest project. Part of me wants to disable a major character with a stroke (let’s call him Character One), in order to push another major character into taking a risk she would not ordinarily take (we’ll call her Character Two); and the other part of me is resisting, afraid the stroke will seem too pat, too manipulative. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t set it up, laid numerous hints that Character One’s condition is fragile enough that such a thing could happen, but really…. Then, of course, I wonder if I, or anyone else, for that matter, will believe Character Two’s willingness to put herself in harm’s way if he doesn’t have it.
It’s a conundrum.
Lately I’ve been particularly irritated by the phrase, “Ordinary people,” particularly when it’s employed by politicians and media personalities.
If ever there was a way of creating a divide—no, a chasm between groups, designating one as special, the other not, it’s that.
We were all born pretty much the same way. We all need liquid and nourishment to survive. We all process that nourishment via the same route (some with medical modifications). We all have vulnerabilities—flesh that can tear, bones that can break, organs that can wear and malfunction. We are all constantly fighting and adapting to microbes we can’t see, or worrying about surviving weather that is worsening and becoming more severe and destructive. We all depend, to varying degrees, on assistance for survival. In the most fundamental ways, we are ALL ordinary.
Still, the other night, I heard the host of a late night news show say that the flag-draped casket of our recently deceased past President was going to lie in state so that “ordinary people could walk by.” Why not simply describe the people attending as, “mourners?” Why even make a distinction?
I know there are people with unique abilities and gifts who merit recognition and honor for their heroism, contributions, innovations, selflessness, and brilliance. But is it really necessary to spotlight their accomplishments by calling everyone else ordinary?
Clues notwithstanding, I don’t know if I’ll be happy if I let Character One have that stroke. But I know I won’t be happy with Character Two’s motivation unless he has it. Would more clues help? Or would they stick out as laughably obvious?
Sadly, that bird stopped singing. Maybe it was resting here on its way to its winter home. I hear they are expecting record snowfalls in some areas down south, while here in the north, it is crisp and sunny.
So, I think I’ll take advantage of this spell of indecisiveness and go for a walk. Maybe I’ll hear other bird songs…undoubtedly ordinary to their own kind, but to me, nothing short of miraculous.
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