Critical Thought: Basics

These are impatient times. Our parents grew up with instant gratifications too, but we grew up with consolidated instant gratifications. So many resources, so many distractions. The laptop vies with itself for my attention and gets it. This makes writing on a laptop tricky: As much as any other task, writing challenges my patience. I can’t rid myself of that impatience, or haven’t yet, so the best thing I can do is try to use it for good. Editing has never been easier or less divorced from the writing process, so I have fewer excuses not to say exactly what I want to say. When I reread my writing again and again, I can ask, each time, Is this word as precise today as it was yesterday? Has this sentence worn out its welcome? Boredom as barometer. If, after a couple dozen reads, I haven’t deleted everything, what’s left should, in theory, be interesting.

Gabe Durham lives in Northampton, MA. His writings have appeared or will appear in Mid-American Review, Fourteen Hills, Daytrotter, Hobart, and elsewhere. He gives away free words and music at gatherroundchildren.com.

Basics

The game begins with a ball at center court. The ball is an egg. When the whistle drops, do not take any guff. Whatever an opponent whispers to you, project confidence. There are baskets, usually five or so. Don’t feel like you need to run unless you just want to. When you spot a basket, fake, pivot, fake, and see if there’s anything in there you could love some day. If you can’t, move on. If you can, try not to come on too strong. Signal a teammate. Have your teammate flatter you. If an opponent is hovering around the same basket as you, fake, roll, fadeaway, and appear disinterested in the basket’s contents. If your opponent sees through this, claim firsties. Failing that, let what’s in the basket decide. Brace yourself. Remember your heart is large, feral, fanged. If the basket chooses your opponent, remind yourself that none of this has anything to do with the object of the game. Somewhere on the court is a gun.

by Gabe Durham