This post is being written in a gastroenterologist's Waiting Room where I will be periodically interrupted to blow in a bag.
For me, though perhaps not for other bloggers, my idea-finding inspiration appears to be cyclical. Sometime, ideas come at me like the fluttering "greenbacks" in Butch Cassidy and I have trouble corralling them all before they escape maddeningly to the winds.
Other times, I need a search party, a team of sniffing bloodhounds and a flashlight to uncover an idea meriting your time and attention. My intended quarry is out there, but it's burrowing in the weeds.
I have no idea what generates these unscheduled cycles of "feast or famine", and frankly, I don't really care. I ride out the varying "weather systems" and forge dauntlessly ahead.
Which is what makes me a professional.
He said facetiously. But also it's true.
During those sporadic "dry spells", I invariably turn to my television writing career in search of promising prospects for possible "blog fodder", that exotic arena encompassing my single area of expertise and, to some but not all, of public curiosity.
However, since I have covered a substantial amount of that ground over the years - most notably in a series of posts entitled "Story of a Writer" - that original motherlode of material has gotten progressively "played out." There is also the issue of the limiting, non-combat version of "PTSD" amnesia.
Hold on a second. I gotta blow in a bag.
Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah.
Recently, however, I became aware of another obstacle to finding worthy candidates for blogatorial attention in my former regular field of endeavor. To borrow a line from my favorite courtroom drama, Inherit The Wind, I discovered that I was looking for post ideas "too high up and too far away."
It's a cultural thing, which inevitably has also bitten me in the... wherever "cultural things" habitually bite people.
I was looking exclusively for the "spectacular."
The place I live in is the country of "big." Not surprisingly, because it's a big country. Although Canada is territorially bigger and, as far as I know, no Canadian gives a hoot about that.
When I was lived there, my only concerns about "big" involved "That's a big driveway I have to shovel. I wonder if I can get it done before losing feeling in my extremities."
Down here, it's "The Greatest Show on Earth", not "The Impressively Largish Show on Earth." Wherever you look - and if you have to, the presidency - superlatives almost exclusively prevail.
This superlitizing phenomenon of "the biggest and the best" is without exception. "I just ate the greatest kale salad with goat cheese in the world!" No one wants to hear about "the higher echelon of enjoyable salads." Therein lies "Yawn Country."
When I think about what would be the conventionally considered "high points" in my career, the "likely suspects" immediately pop to mind.
I won some prizes. Participated in some of the "landmark" programming of the day. I signed some (unimaginably, to me, but "tip money" to others) lucrative contracts. I received sincere compliments...
Oh wait. Here comes the bag again.
Sorry about that.
I received sincere compliments from writers I had once supervised, confiding, "I learned so much from you." And if I weren't headed someplace else with this narrative, that would be the supreme pinnacle of the "most memorable" mountain. It still unquestionably "Takes the Silver."
But there's something that edges even that greatly gratifying "high water mark" out, earning in the process the eponymous accolade, "My Biggest Thrill Ever In Show Business."
Which, in reality, amounts to two words that were never actually spoken.
Let us ponder that for a second.
My biggest thrill in show business involves two words nobody ever said to me.
Well, at least I adhered to the "Edict of Superlatives", dutifully labeling it "My biggest thrill", albeit of the "non-existent" variety. To purists and nitpickers, the fact that the event never actually occurred may technically disqualify it from consideration.
I, however, respectfully disgree.
What exactly are those two words I never heard that nonetheless signify "My Biggest Thrill Ever In Show Business"?
The two words in question derive from a cowboy superstar John Wayne utterance, spoken in Red River or The Cowboys, or possibly both.
Uh-oh. It's "Bag Breathing" time again.
I know it was in a "cattle drive" movie and the above titles both fit the bill.
Here's the explanatory context.
Wait. I need to include something.
Those two words I never heard arrived not in an instant but over the years, during the developing portion of my career. I looked into my mind one day and, to my infinite delight and lifelong contentment, there they were.
Okay, now the explanatory context.
John Wayne, the crusty "trail boss" of an impending cattle drive, is selecting which men (or in the case of The Cowboys, young boys) he will ultimately hire for the drive. He spots one contender competently going about his business, accurately described in the TV theme song "Rawhide" as "ride, rope and brand 'em."
As "The Duke" watches this capable cowpoke in action, a grumpy scowl - his version of an appreciative smile - crosses his countenance, accompanied by two acknowledging words of acceptance:
That's what I realized as I proceeded through my early assignments, being continually kept on rather than told to go home. The reaction was something I inferred, an un-uttered yet eminently certifying - and satisfying - "Seal of Approval."
The most beautiful words I never heard. Their implied unspoken implication
representing, overwhelmingly, my biggest thrill ever in show business.
Deeming me good enough to stick around.
The remembrance of that including accolade breezed into my head the other day.
The memory still sets off a smile.
And, right on time, the last "blow in the bag", before I rewrite.
Followup: The test I blew in a bag for, which had previously been positive, turned out this time to be negative. Although the frustrating symptoms accompanying the condition I apparently no longer have, continue.
So there's that. Along with an experiment where, for the first time. though unlikely the last, I wrote a entire blog post in a Doctor's Office.