By Craig Funston
I’ve been doing this gig for close to seven years. Never missed deadline, although it has been nip and tuck a few times. I’ve been asked many times how I come up with such random, fresh, and occasionally rational columns.
The short answer is “I don’t know.” (So is the long answer.)
But I do have an idea that might give you a clue. You see, as long as there’s something sad here, or goofy there, or as long as there’s something homey and upbeat that I can write about, I will always have fodder for the column. And then there’s always the cows and the kids.
I am a common man writing to common people. I deal with life as I see it, not as I don’t see it—or pretend it. I take a common sense approach and put a creative spin on it (no, Maurice, that’s not exaggerating), with the sincere intent to make it more readable.
My goal each week is to stimulate you, through a couple of ways: The first is through reflection and recollection, as you pause to gather your thoughts on a busy day. It’s a crazy world we live in, and I would like to think that “Foremost on my Mind” is a bit of an oasis for your soul. It is for me, as I write it; it’s a real emotional outlet for me. I get to put out in front of me (via the keyboard) what’s inside of me. Some people do that with Facebook, but that’s a different medium for this old boy; hopefully, this column is a lot deeper, I trust.
There’s a lot of written junk out there, and while many may disagree with my approach or philosophy to life, I trust that my comments are reasonable and rational, wholesome and wholehearted. I have never once sought to irritate anyone with my Christian worldview. There are many areas where we can disagree (let’s try faith, marriage, sex, habits, for starters), but it’s the mark of a free society to agree to disagree. Such freedom does not exist in the Iraqs, Syrias, North Koreas, and Albanias of the world.
We should cherish the freedom of the press, among others, and not abuse it.
The second way is at a lighter level, namely, humour and worthsmithing. (Methinks that last word is a new word.) But the key is I communicated to you with a word that we both understand. As committed to good writing and grammar skills as I am, I do allow myself to break the rules.
(Note to Cherry Coulee students that I teach: Please disregard the above paragraph—or I’ll flunk you.)
I think communication is more than words, but words happen to be my personal speciality. In a recent writing class, we came up with close to twenty-five ways to communicate effectively. For example, smoke signals and broken branches are very effective ways to get a message out, but there are some major logistical problems; ditto for telegrams, Morse code, and sign language.
One of my burdens (maybe “visions” is a happier word) when it comes to this column is to enjoy words –not so much as toys but as tools. We use tools to create things, to put out there something that was a mere shadow or ideas. So it is with words I have come across many people who fail to write now because they failed at writing in school then. I feel badly for the bondage they feel. They feel hampered in life because of this, but at least they appreciate others who can write well.
Then there are those who, from a completely different generation, fail to write because they have been raised in a cyber world. They text and tweet, but fail to effectively communicate to anyone other than those who understand their particular vernacular. Whether it’s chronic laziness, poor schooling, or low expectations, I cannot say.
They cheat at communication, using only letters (not full words), slang, and incomplete thoughts.
What I can say is that it is a tragedy that too many in my kids’ generation cannot communicate clearly with ordinary words. And that goes beyond the cyber medium: Even trying to converse with many of them just using ordinary words is a stretch.
My focus in this column is to write well, not speak well, though both are crucial to success at any level.
Whether you feel I speak for you or whether you simply appreciate good healthy prose, it has been a privilege to do this column. Your kind remarks over the years have been further motivation to write this column.
I trust it has indeed been an oasis for your soul. It certainly has been for mine.