In Maputo I struggled down sidewalks navigating the crushed concrete while sight-seeing. As I tripped, two African friends rescued me, leaning me against the side of a storefront.
A Mozambican man apparently glued to a folding chair near a small table four yards from us studied my agonizing situation. I swayed, then bent over struggling to regain my equilibrium. My two friends, the principal of a South African school and her administrative assistant, grabbed my arms and wrapped them around their shoulders as they carefully pulled me down the street.
Taking a breather, I turned to look back at the inconsiderate jerk one more time. Why had he not had the common courtesy to assist me, give me his seat, anything?
I presumed he was rude.
I was wrong.
I presumed he didn’t care.
Probably I was wrong about that as well.
I may have presumed he was lazy.
Then I realized all my presumptions were wrong.
Staring at him from the side, no tablecloth to hide him, I saw.
The man had no feet.
That vision has stayed, as well as visions of the torture he had endured. I’d heard the tales of how the enemy would simply cut off a hand, a leg, two feet.
That was the day I decided to take a second look. To not jump to conclusions that danced in my head. That was the day I realized there were negative presumptions and I had to let go.
As writers, we all have Negative Presumptions. Let me name a few.
- We’ll never be published. Hogwash. Total nonsense. Of course we will. Write more. Read more. Work smart.
- We’ll never be able to talk to a roomful of people. A book signing? Holy cow. Talk to people, actually stand up and pull our stomachs in? Wear presentable clothes? Never mind we’ve been writing in our robes for the past eight years.
- Social Media????? Are you kidding me? What’s that all about? Believe me, you can learn the basics. Get a friend to assist you. Take a three-night course at the local community college. It’s fun. Enjoy your profession. You are a writer.
- Teach. “Who Me?” Now you’re really kidding me. No, no. Think about it. It’s not fair. If you have info gleaned from years of struggles, you need to pass it on to others. It’s a duty. And, yes you can!
“THE CHIEF DANGER IN LIFE IS THAT YOU MAY TAKE TOO