Average

by Mark Chmiel

It’s a practice
I’m pretty average at it

But compared to what
Or to whom?

Take Chomsky, for instance:
In the 1990s

He said that he spent
20-25 hours a week

Writing letters
This was in addition

To carrying on his linguistics work
And to doing all his political activities

He’s at one end
Of the letter writing spectrum

I’m merely average
(Nothing to write home about)

I send out one letter
Or note or postcard each day

Somedays (like on weekends)
Two

Compared to someone who never avails herself
Of the services of the USPS

This may seem like a lot
I’d tell her about Chomsky

Sometimes on a sheet of paper
I may write four or five sentences that’s all

I do that because it’s do-able
And some people like that

(Eileen likes my terseness
She doesn’t have the energy to read six-page letters

Like the one I got twenty years ago
Single-spaced from Chomsky)

It’s do-able as it is goes against the grain
of epistolary perfectionism

I’d rather Nima at least get
Some simple words from me once a week

Than nothing at all
Due to the pressure

To write something awesome and involved
That only leads to procrastination

For me Chomsky is like one
Of the Five Wonderful Precepts

About which Thich Nhat Hanh once said
We try to move in the direction of the precept

I can always add one or two letters a week
Every few weeks or so if I want

It appears that my friends–
Even the young ones–enjoy getting old-fashioned letters

Glutted as so many of us are
With emails, messages, and texts

I’m not saving the world, that’s true
I’m merely barely touching a world

The world of the recipient
Who has touched my world countless times

Write it
Forward

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