This column is not about me. Oh, sure, it’s full of “I” and “me” and “my” and “mine,” but those things just make up a framework. This column is really all about you.
It’s a peculiar mix of pride and humility that I feel when typing out words that, once committed to print, become yours, no longer mine. Each time you take a moment to read my words, an exchange takes place. My thoughts enter yours, and you reflect upon them. Your reflections may be somewhat profound, or they may be something along the lines of, “That’s just silly.” Some days you might even think, “That’s hogwash.” But either way, the powers who choose to publish this column are thinking of you, not me.
This notion that my thoughts become yours — momentarily — isn’t novel. Many artists relish creating something, knowing it will mean different things to different people. Writers (should) consider their audience. When I sit down, the question I ask myself is, “What do I have to say that someone else needs to hear?” (Incidentally, this is basically impossible to answer.)
You may agree wholeheartedly with what I say one day, and you’re appreciative for the solidarity on the topic du jour. This column may put words to your feelings. I’m your friend some days, commiserating over the challenges of parenthood. Other days, I’m your enemy, and my words represent everything that you think is “wrong with this generation.” Mine are the ideologically opposite of your beliefs, or perhaps a slightly different viewpoint — one that deserves consideration. Some days, this column merely jogs your memory and you remember a sweet childhood moment that makes you smile.
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Here is what makes my little black and white space such an honor for me — and for you. (Remember, this is about YOU.) There is arguably nothing vital or life-saving in what I’m saying here. No news reported, occasional marginally helpful hints, but that’s about it. This column is just about the human element: the family, the parent, the employee, the neighbor, the average Joe who does their best to get through …that’s my charge.
Do you realize what that means? Those in charge of this space recognize that we, the people — the little people — the insignificant people (you may or may not fall into this category) — YOU deserve a voice. Our thoughts, our feelings, our daily struggles are all important.
Here’s a little secret. My best columns — probably your favorites — aren’t written by me. There are days I sit down to write, and I my ideas won’t gel, they won’t line up into a cohesive thought, they run from me like a trying to round up a herd of squirrels. On those days, I ask God to give me some words, then the words appear, and those columns feel meaningful.
But this newspaper has no idea they’re hiring God. They think they’re hiring me — a mom who works part time, who lives in an average house on an average street with some typical kids. I’m just a freelance writer. What’s their agenda in hiring me? To hopefully, sometimes, when I manage to hit the nail on the head, touch the human element that speaks directly to you.
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes weekly.