In May I had surgery on the muscles in my left eye to correct the strabismus that has dogged me since before and after my brain surgery on the torturous blood vessel rubbing against one of my cranial nerves. (Yes, that is the official wording on the MRI analysis…torturous!). I also had the cataract removed. In August, the surgeon completed the trifecta by implanting a new lens in the right eye. Wow! I can see to infinity and beyond…if infinity is the sky above the treeline along the stream across the prairie in the park that borders our back yard. Hallelujah! If only all our problems were subject to such an easy fix.

Some days reading or listening to the news creates such a word fog, I have difficulty clearing space for rational thought. As a wordsmith ( a term that has been applied to me by colleagues), I pay close attention to the way in which a particular adjective pronounced with a particular intonation can affect the listener. Calling an attack “disastrous” is a far cry from labeling it “retaliatory” or “successful.” Inflating numbers to create a hailstorm of emotional response is equally alarming. When a spokesperson for an international aid agency claimed we needed to airlift 250,000 Afghans from the Kabul airport immediately, I simply shook my head. No agency on earth can accomplish such a task. We have proven over time that the human population of this planet is incapable of rescuing the innocent victims of tribal wars no matter how much money we throw at the problem. We may not lack the intent to do good, but we certainly lack the cooperation and harmony needed to accomplish that good.

Smarter men and women than I have proclaimed that when we ignore history, we are doomed to repeat it. Looking back over the past one hundred years, we can observe repeated incidents of trying to force democracy on a theocracy or upon a people unaccustomed to such a governing style. These attempts simply fail. Real, permanent change must come from within the people themselves. The fog over the fields and pond dissipates not because I fan it away, but because it is the nature of Nature to absorb, disperse, and coalesce according to a more intuitive voice.

When I’m working through a manuscript, I am on a constant search to eliminate those foggy ideas and statements that muddle the meaning. Inevitably, it takes my genius of an editor to point out the instances where my own mind fog has obscured the landscape of the plot. It’s not an easy task. There are no simplistic solutions. It takes work…constant vigilance, a willingness to learn from past mistakes. Writing, like governing, like the desire for peace, demands attention to the whole and especially, to history. My work and my philosophy require it.