Posted by: cctracker | January 11, 2012

Wisdom, Plain-Spoken

Photo by James Burton

Stltoday/ St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan seems like the last of the old newspaper men.  A rumpled, straight-talker with a Chicago accent drawn to the plight of ordinary folk, he nevertheless often gets to profound territory. His topic is “awareness” in this piece, but he takes us there in a way that will catch any reader.  Here are the first few lines:

“Do you know what phase the moon is in right now? It’s up there every night.

Even though we can’t see the stars too well any more, the moon is still clearly visible. If you looked at it last night, you’d know what phase it’s in.

A lot of us hardly ever look up.

I thought about that over the holidays. I was in Nicaragua, and I spent some time out in the country where it still gets dark at night. The stars were fantastic. When you see stars like that, you can understand why earlier civilizations were fascinated by the night sky.

We’re not. For the most part, there’s not much to see if you live anywhere near a city.

But the moon, big as it is, how can we miss it?

We miss a lot of things. Can you name every family that lives on your block?

When I was a kid, I could. In fact, I can still recall those families. For the most part, I can remember the occupations of most of the men. Bear in mind, too, that this was a time before neighborhood associations. There were no organized activities. People just knew about their neighbors…”

Take a look at the rest of what he says on that “neighborhood” theme. He goes on to talk about how we’re becoming “oblivious to things” and even speculates about our evolution on the savannah!  He may be a vanishing breed, but here’s hoping his descendants in the business will keep finding ways to open up the soulfulness of ordinary life for readers.

The rest of the column can be found here.


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