A little more candy


A few days ago, I posted an essay that has basically been smacking around inside my head ever since. It was a little piece… similar to many that get posted around here… a combination of wanting to produce material this month, the experimental nature of the site, and a few other assorted odds and ends, which, for whatever reason had me believing that there might be a few missing elements in the effort.

One way of describing what I mean is simple enough… it wasn’t meant to be driven as a serious subject offering. And yet, I kept stumbling into potential readings spring-boarding off of it as a serious subject.

Here’s the title… and a link…

Candy is dandy, but…

This essay is an extension… a support… but not a defense of that essay. I don’t believe it needs to be defended. Instead, I just want the proper context and atmosphere around for the conversation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In any effort, there comes a point where in order to complete it you have to be willing to let it go. And, in several places… such as the literary world… in many ways once you do let go, the work no longer really belongs to you.

Yes… yes… it is still yours. But in many ways, you’ve handed it over to others. Kind of like buying an incredibly thoughtful and personal gift for someone else. You pour in your soul, place a ribbon on the box, and then pass it along hoping it will be appreciated by the recipient.

A couple of things—actually three, three things—for your consideration as we begin.

Number one ~ Literal and figurative can be delicate (and dangerous) differences

Many years ago, I was taking a class in college. We were looking at the work of William Blake and interpreting a poem. For a variety of reasons, young and naïve and not comfortable really expressing my stronger opinions, I didn’t really dive into some thoughts I had about what the piece might be alluding to.

A good way of explaining it? My presentation on it could be best described by looking toward Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden as an example – I offered up a reading that claimed an apple was quite literally an apple, though in my mind and beliefs I knew there was something quite different taking place.

Honestly, I hadn’t found my voice. Or, more precisely, a strength for expressing it. And, in turn, learned a lot in the process. Not only were differences between literal and figurative readings strong, there was also a more powerful force found in understanding and expressing your position when siding with one over the other.

Number two ~ Time provides different views of days gone by

Context is one good way of considering it. Time moves on. Words lose their strength, take on new meanings, and may become something stronger.

A different way of considering it would be the family… the home… going back 50 years from today, then another 50, and then another, and so on while comparing what is believed to be the normal or standard for society at any of those moments. Look at how similarities and differences are viewed based on gender, religion, ethnicity, and the list goes on for quite some time, diving into some very serious areas.

What one generation may view as polite and acceptable may be condemned and criticized by another. And such reactions can be passionate, bringing out the strongest of arguments from the head and the heart.

More difficult though is to view these differences in their environment. Certainly some thoughts and actions are not acceptable in a setting of civilized behavior based on equality and respect. Many though are more challenging to evaluate from a distance… through a decidedly different lens. And there are those that wish to rewrite history. They want to change those words, challenge those actions, and judge those involved.

Number three ~ Just because new options are available today doesn’t mean those having made choices yesterday would change their answers

Movies these days are amazing. And in many ways, we take several major advancements in cinema for granted. We have color and sound. Basically unheard of one hundred years ago. But…

If they could have, would studios and directors and producers and creators of motion pictures all that time ago automatically film in color or add sound if they had such options and their projects back to do over?

Would someone selecting plain M&Ms (or peanut) as their favorites decades ago waver in their devotion if presented with peanut butter, pretzel, coconut or crispy options?

When I set out writing the first essay, I didn’t want to investigate the underlying… or more specifically, the literal expression concerning the uses of candy and liquor with regard to the courting of emotional and physical favor. I wanted to explore the more figurative possibilities, based more upon the taking of action. The difficulty? Yeah… well…

There is no subtle way, especially with a serious topic, to avoid the literal when attempting to consider the figurative. In rearview mirror, the concepts of nice guys finishing last can’t really work when set up against pouring some drinks. Because in a decent investigation, there’s balance of thought. A sweet for the sour would be one way of putting it. Two sides of the whole would be another. And, you can’t judge a nice guy without establishing the existence of a bad boy. And once there’s a bad boy, that means there’s a good behavior and a bad behavior, with good and bad being interpreted as right and wrong, and once again… as I said in the essay… we end up with an elephant in the room.

I still think the saying is worthy of an attempt at considering some figurative interpretations. Which brings us to the kicker… we might need to step back, walk away and not consider them at all. If the debate is going to involve literal and figurative points of view facing off, it’s likely there is no win-win to be found in continuing with the discussion, nor agreeing to disagree.

Making an attempt to view some sayings… and, by extension the beliefs of the time… through values established 50, 100, 150 or more years away from their creation cannot work if you don’t understand that your vantage point comes with an obstructed view.

A few years ago, Terry and I moved into a new house. While setting things up and unpacking, for this reason and that, there were some long and exhausting days involved. Easy enough to understand.

The entry to the house from the garage involved a set of stairs. These stairs happened to have a shorter than average rise between each step. One evening, after a particularly draining day, I went to make one last run out in the garage. A whole big ball of fun followed.

Quick jump to the ending reveals that we learned where the emergency room was in our new neighborhood that night. Eleven stitches worth of a lesson for me. The longer version was pieced together over the next few days, with a few more trips in and out of the garage and at least one near miss of tripping again.

When I reached the last step, for some reason my sense of place was telling me I had finished and had a foot on the floor. The half-rise or such was close enough to give me visual cues that I had completed moving down. Instead, my next move found my heel catching the edge of the actual last step, sending me tumbling and crashing into some 2x4s leaning against the nearby wall.

My view… my perspective… wasn’t exactly what I thought. My interpretation was off. I fell and learned a lesson.

I still have the t-shirt I was wearing that night. Washed several times, it still bears the remains of quite a good amount of blood. Haven’t worn it. For some reason though, I can’t throw it away and chuckle when I see it in my dresser drawer. Hard-earned knowledge… painful lessons… more productive tomorrows.

The true dangers involved in what I’m outlining in both of these essays aren’t really in the content. Closer to the truth is that they’re found in not properly processing the information available. Awareness… or, more precisely, the lack of… can send you tumbling and crashing. Depending on the situation involved, it could be more painful than some 2x4s and a trip for stitches.

I suppose it’s up to you to decide what to do with the lesson.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com