Ted Jones wrote sports for the Los Angeles Times during WWII. What readers weren’t aware of was he was a talented her, Elizabeth. She later became the executive secretary to the director of USC’s School of Journalism; a curmudgeon who owned a string of community weeklies that eagerly hired promising J-School grads as long as they worked for rock bottom pay and were male white (during indoctrination: “Hiroto, why don’t you major in English?”).
Fondly called “Mrs. Jones” by all, very few were aware she was married to a minor league second baseman, let alone a Native American. She also took a Nisei girl from Poston into her home before the war had ended; the house was peppered by gunfire as a result of her benevolence. None of which I was aware of when she took Stan Kiefer, a Jewish undergrad roommate, and myself under her protective wing. (She bailed us out when detained by UCLA campus police for hawking a bogus Daily Bruin we had made up. Later when USC summer school newspaper editor, I inadvertently caused a House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) campus uproar. The director saved me from expulsion, but salvation was Mrs. Jones’ intervention.)
I use this somewhat convoluted introduction to presage a profound lesson she taught in a creative writing class she taught. (You got an “A” only by selling a magazine article or story during the semester. If memory serves correctly, a grade even iconic columnist Art Buchwald never achieved; nor a one-time president of Times Mirror Corp.)
If you’re ever fortunate enough to warrant a column, Mrs. Jones forewarned, be ever careful when quoting others or reprinting from another source. First, the byline means the writer is responsible for everything appearing under his name. Sixty years ago there was no such creature as bloggers and email, but you can see where the admonition today is ever more imperative. The second reproof was more direct: Reprinting someone else’s letter/material/commentary might convince your editor that that person is better suited to be a columnist than you!
Which explains CR2S’s reluctance to rely too heavily on letters to and incoming email. First of all, I cherish my weekly allocation of space too much to share; secondly, there is too much bull flying around that escapes due diligence and verification; and lastly, in today’s world of tweets and texting, not many correspondents take the time and effort to author a thoughtful, personal message that I deem worthy of sharing with the general readership. Which leads to the following:
Subject: The here and the now
“I read your article of Wednesday, Dec. 14, and I wanted to share with you what helps me. I hope I am not intruding nor offend you. If I do, I apologize.
“I attended a retreat with T…. N… H… [CR2S’s decision not to identify the group] in Escondido, CA, this past September. The whole experience was amazingly interesting. At the end, what I brought home with me was that the only thing that matters is the ‘here and now.’ Live in the present, breathe every moment deeply. Become inspire(d) by the magical moments of everyday life; a beautiful dawn or sunset, the hummingbird with its beautiful feathers changing colors, a full rainbow, an amazing melody or lyric, the fantastic engineering and invention of the iPad and its clouds, the growth of a watermelon from a tiny seed.
“To take control of the direction where I am going. I will go where I want to go, because I have full control. The people from my past that died in their physical form, I keep them alive inside of me. I talk to them and share with them every magic I discover in my everyday life. Buddhism teaches that desires and wants cause suffering. I want to be happy and suffer as little as possible, so I make every effort to minimize my expectations. When I am sad, angry, or plain anxious, I practice breathing in (I feel peace …), breathing out (I feel thankful …).
“Sent from my iPad
The above was in response to CR2S, Dec. 14, 2011, entitled “Dear Mom: Why Am I Still Here?” Which concluded: “The past is so vainglorious, the future so nebulous. Is the future long enough to be worth a serious look? I wish I knew …”
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.