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I am lying abed, adrift in that special land between slumber and deep sleep. Outdoor sunlight begins to ratchet up, peeking between blinds, scrawling patterns on the bedroom wall, drawing me gently into wakefulness.

Once alert, the only lingering memory is the fragrance of sun-dried linen, linen that is waving in the breeze from its perch on a countryside clothesline in Cuba, Alabama.

My eyelids rise and I know immediately what the dream of fragrance means. I am standing in memory beside my Aunt Margaret in the back yard of her home in the tiny town of Cuba. She and I are removing freshly dried clothing from the clothesline prior to bringing them in through the back door. It is a ritual I wish I could perform again, but those days are gone. Those days are warm and humid, sunny memories of a time when I could sit and look her in the eye and see faint images of her eldest sister—my late mother, Frances—smiling back at me.

Aunt Margaret is the final direct link to Mother I will ever have. What’s left is kinship, what remains are my brothers and sister, in whose eyes I also see my departed parents.

Aunt Margaret’s husband of 72 years, my Uncle Lamar, died just the other day, and now she is left in the care of her sons and daughter, my cousins, and in the care of that small clotheslined back yard and the small immaculately-kept home next to a beautiful little church where she spends many of her days.

I was born into an enormous family and was lucky enough to spend time with many aunts and uncles scattered about Tuscaloosa and Holt and Peterson and Brookwood and West Blocton and Northport and just about everywhere else as time went by. Each of them left indelible memories, each of them expressed their love of my family in many different ways through the decades.

As I say, I am one lucky man. I am learning to be satisfied with the stories and memories left behind by these kind folk. Aunt Margaret is the final aunt, and I will be visiting with her soon.

Wonder if the clothesline is still standing

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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Listen to Jim’s podcast:

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What would my life be like if I only heard everything once, only experienced everything once, only saw everything one time?

What if Playback had never been invented? What if there were no snapshots, selfies, cameras, recording devices, image reproducers?

What if echoes were the only evidence I had that my voice existed?

What if each moment in time was complete in and of itself, never to be reviewed except in memory and imagination?

My idea of a perfect day is one in which nothing is repeated to me or regurgitated in my direction.

This cannot easily occur.

Maybe this attitude is driven by my short attention span. Once I experience something, enough is enough. I don’t need to synthetically experience it again. Unless it is really, really important.

Fireworks? They are lovely, but why do I need to see them more than once? I cherish the memory of their sound, their piercing beauty, the awesome effect they have on viewers. As a writer, I can weave tales about fireworks, I can examine them again and again from every angle, through the lenses of different philosophies, right here, inside my mind. I can appreciate a fireworks display and hold it in memory for a lifetime.

Another way of explaining this: Why would I need more than one wedding ring? The one I received is the only one I will ever need to contemplate. I don’t need to be given a new wedding ring several times a year. Memory and affection suffice.

Watching a news or sports event, I wish to see it once. I do not require several dozen re-plays of every single play, pounding away at me until all life is wrung from it. I only wish to view that home run as it happens, then I can go away and contemplate it. I need watch a horrible disaster one time—it loses all meaning after battering my senses repeatedly through re-play.

My point, if I have one, is that the purity of a single moment is so much more powerful when it is allowed to exist on its own intrinsic terms, when it is not rendered listless through endless repetition and yadda yadda yadda commentary.

Of course, there are moments in life worth re-viewing. These are the big, important, life-changing moments. These I would keep. They are worthy enough.

For me, the way to watch an athletic event is to mute the punditry and avert my gaze during the repetitions. The way to appreciate a book is to read it once, then contemplate it for a few months until it settles itself and becomes part of a continuing self-assembling jigsaw puzzle in my heart. The way to appreciate you is to listen to what you have to say, observe your presence, savor your being, then wrestle with what I have learned and silently assimilate it into my life.

Meanwhile, I hope to find pleasure now and then in spending just one day avoiding visual addiction—that modern-times need to view hundreds of times an image of something that only happened once and is important enough to merit silent appraisal, deep within

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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Listen to Jim’s podcast:

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 There must be fifty ways to export a thought from mind to page. Writing words is the easy part. Editing and polishing and making the words more powerful, more meaningful, is where the real work lies. Editing must be done.

For instance, here’s what first comes out of my head and into my fingers and then onto screen or page. As I say, tossing words into existence is effortless.

Now comes the craft, then the art, of editing.

This is a small train-of-thought exercise:


“If something is not written, it is still, nevertheless, awaiting the blank page. The unwritten exists, even if it is never written. My job is to write the unwritten, forcing its visibility upon the reader.” –Jim Reed


“The unwritten, though unwritten, nevertheless awaits the blank page. I the writer make visible the unwritten.” –Jim Reed


“The unwritten always awaits the blank page. My task is to make the unwritten visible to the reader.” –Jim Reed


“If I never write something down, you will never know it exists. But it does exist, simply because it resides within me.” –Jim Reed

See what I mean? There must be fifty ways to write any thought. As I work on drafts of this thought, it alters itself. The end result might take years. Stay tuned.

One of my many diversions consists of collecting and studying concise, perfectly honed thoughts and meaningful insights. I am constantly amazed at how few Great Thoughts emerge from the thousands that I collect. In my small world, a collectible quote must make its appearance without notice, execute its sting, then disappear, allowing the reader to massage and digest it.

And in rare but special moments, a great set of words can uplift you, change your day, detour you from chaos to bliss, or at least make you chuckle.

For instance:

“Not to decide is to decide.” –Harvey Cox

This grand but simple utterance could take many pages to develop and make public, but Cox reduces it to six words. You’ll never forget them.

Another example:

“Jesus is coming. Look busy.” –bumper sticker

Entire volumes of theology and studies on human behavior and ethics could be written to explain and examine this thought, but the unknown scribe reduced it to one startling and funny set of five words.

And here’s one more quote that contains an entire human life:

“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” –Samuel Beckett

Each morning, I lie abed and wrestle with this thought. Then, I hop up and head to the shower. Before I know it, I’m going on

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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