“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal
Today, I went up to the bank to have my signature notarized. The paper needed to get back to another banker up at the farm where we took out the loan to renovate the almost-farmhouse. I make friends with my bankers: we share hellos and how are yous and how’s the family. But this Saturday morning the bank was quiet. As she prepared the notary tools, I said, “You look about as ready for morning as I do.” She laughed.
“I stayed up to late watching Family Feud,” she said. Really? With all the nuttiness and chaos in the world, you’d lose sleep watching a family fight?
Perhaps I’m not being fair. I’ve never watched it so perhaps it’s funny. But her watching what I considered an older television show (is it?) reminded me of watching METV and I started telling her about watching METV up on the farm: Bonanza, Mod Squad, Wagon Train. But of course to tell her about watching METV on the farm, I had to tell her how we came to build a place on the farm; but to do that, I had to tell her how forty years of dreaming cooked up this place. I think she lost interest somewhere around the part of me researching digital antennas.
I understand what Pascal means. Writing, I can go back, edit, delete….not so much with my mouth. My stories have a way of not having a beginning until I can get to what it was that I wanted to tell. Like WHY we sit on the farm and watch Bonanza.
I mean, isn’t that a question you’d ask? I’d certainly want to know how someone came about watching a forty years old show at their retreat place. I mean, wouldn’t you listen to birds instead?
Actually, sometimes I wonder that too and shut the door between my little writing nook and the main room where my husband delights in his digital- television-not-from-cable. But if we’re up there just to run away for a couple of days and rest, I watch with him.
I digress. The point being, if Pascal had more time, he’d have edited his letter. But then he wrote it by hand and that would mean another piece of paper; and if the point on his quill (did Pascal use a quill? ah, yes, I can see one in the print) needed sharpening, and before he could sharpen it, he’d need to go down the narrow staircase to the apothecary store to get a stone to sharpen his pen knife, well, you can see how the letter might not have been shorter.
At least that’s my story.