Hitting the Target


I write streams of words nearly every day. Many of them are money-making dreck, not horrible, but not horribly profound. Some of them feel like I am coming close to finding the words that will capture my thoughts. And some…some find their target.

I was reminded of this over the weekend when I moderated a reply to a blog I had written so long ago, I had to re-read it to remember. It was last summer. I had been thinking about the word, “schadenfreude,” a German word that implies taking pleasure in the earned pain of others.

The word came to me because I had been watching news coverage about a woman living her worst nightmare: in the moment she looked away, her three-year-old son ran into the water and drowned before anyone knew where he had run. The interviews with other parents seemed a bit holier-than-thou, a bit judgmental. In my blog, I argued that no parent can watch a child all the time and, in fact, it’s not even healthy to do so. I defended the mother and then I forgot the blog.

Until this weekend, when she wrote to me.

She thanked me for defending her in her worst time. I will not quote the reply without her permission, but she is, as you may imagine, still grieving, still trying to cope with the tragedy. And it sounds as though my words brought her some comfort.

It is a good and humbling reminder when you are sending out reams of words that it is easy to be clever, but important to be honest and to be kind. Because sometimes – and you never know when – your words will find their target.