Thursday, March 19, 2015

More metaphor. Letter # 16

Dear Governor Ducey,

As you might have noticed by now, if you were reading my letters, you would see that I tend to make a lot of metaphors, such as: garbage is to governor as collect garbage is to recall governor. This habit of metaphor is a gift and a curse. Sometimes I make connections that are hard to justify. But instead of giving up, I just see it as a problem in need of a solution. I was thinking about this as I was fishing (beware: more fishing is writing metaphor making ahead) and how fishing is problem solving—the current turns this way, you adjust your rod that way. Your fly gets stuck under a rock. You wade into the water even though you don’t own waders because you’re not sure you’re really going to get into this fishing thing. You try to avoid getting soaked as you dig the fly out from under. You tangle your hook in the tree across the stream. Same plan. Walk across the water, try to pull your pant legs high, be grateful for your tall snow boots. You pull the tree down with one hand while holding the rod with your other. You manage to bring a ten foot branch down to your (well, mine, in this case) five foot two inch height. You unwrap the hook and the line without breaking your rod or falling in the water. When they say fishing is full of success, I’m sure this is what they mean. You are proud that when your line becomes wrapped around your boots that you untangle yourself before you cast. You’re proud that this time, you didn’t hook the tree behind you. You don’t really catch any fish but still, by the end of the day, your pants are only kind of wet and although the water went up and over your boots, your feet aren’t frostbitten. You have survived and that’s a kind of win.

Writing is like this. There’s a sentence as knotted as a fishing line. You untangle and untangle. You hope you smooth it out. You change something on page 75 which means you have to backtrack through all the rest of the pages to reflect the page 75 change. Remember to look behind you when you cast! Why would you use the word “reverie” to talk about the way a real live person stares into the distance? The same, reason, I guess, that you’d flick your entire fishing rod into the stream. It’s OK. You can get it out of the water. You can hit delete.

I always think that governing is like this: Little problems that you solve one at a time. Hey, we have no money. Well, maybe we should get some. Or, man, those universities are making us a lot of money? What should we do? Let’s invest in them to bring more business into the state? Or, hey look, this Affordable Healthcare Act helps us help provide health care to our citizens, at a much lower rate than before. Maybe we can add people to the rolls. But instead of taking one problem (or, good bit of news, depends on how you look at it) at a time, you chose the ideological approach that assumes anything that helps people should be cut and anything that makes their lives harder should be instated. To make another metaphor (another problem with the metaphor making, I can’t stop), you took a wide ideological brush to paint over a host of tiny “problems” that really, if you had painted them more carefully, might be solutions themselves.

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