It's one thing to bore ever indulgent readers, but quite another when a columnist begins to bore himself. Despite all the fabricated hullabaloo he may try to stir up about his last column, it's become clear enough that it's time--way past time, really, to throw in the towel.
Like the old vaudevillian who's tired of hustling up a crowd, his great ambition now is just to be part of it, another reader instead of the writer. Oh, to be one of the shadows beyond the footlights in the great resounding auditorium called journalism. Whereas once he sought to be billed as a star attraction, now he wishes to become just part of the anonymous crowd. Energy for anything else has vanished with the passing of time.
And while he's willing to reread some of his old columns to see which if any have held up over the years, he'd much rather be part of the jury than the defendant constantly puffing his own supposed innocence. It's the only sane course, wouldn't you agree?
The only luxury this affluent society may not be able to supply even the richest of us is anonymity. What a blessing to pass unnoticed through the milling crowds composed of people forever bent on achieving their own goals without anyone taking note of the unremarkable zillionaire making his way to his office, the bleachers at a ball game, or best of all home sweet home complete with family--plus good friends who drop by from time to welcome time.
To have the leisure of rereading real literature instead one's own dreary and all too datable commentary on the transient news of the day--now there is real luxury. Instead of pounding out still more ephemeral words to add to the volumes and volumes of them already weighing down bookshelves all over the world . . . . That's a goal as worthy as it is humble.
Old age can be a blessing if taken easily instead of rushing into it. And for all we know, death itself may be an even greater blessing. The angel of death can be more than welcome when he brings welcome relief, like sleep at the end of a busy day. Blessed are those who know his healing touch and merciful embrace, the way a child knows his parents' love and that he can trust it no matter what. Call it unearned grace.
Right now, when I should be working on my umpteenth farewell column, my mind is drifting to the pleasures of an unstructured way of life. Imagine not having to count lines or worry about repeating oneself in the dotage of old age. But there I go again, doting on me, myself and I--my three favorite themes.
All of us are the centers of our own lives, and what a relief it will be to move from the center to the periphery of the action and let others supplant us with their own egos and strivings. Good luck to them all, but this contender is stepping out of the ring at last and leaving the grimy work to others who dignify it with the name of career.
So long, y'all, and keep fighting. Me, I'm going, going and I hope gone by the time this final farewell address makes it into print. Enjoy the game. I won't miss the roar of the crowd and the smell of greasepaint a bit, not now. Y'all enjoy. I'm calling it. -30-.
Paul Greenberg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Editorial on 09/23/2018
Print Headline: The last column (I promise!)