Feelings on reaching the century mark

By Jim Lee

It really doesn’t seem possible, but this is my 100th column on this page. Next month will mark two years of doing this. It feels like I did the first one just a few weeks ago. Thank you for reading what I have to say. And thank you for your comments.
Probably the most common question I get is where do I get something to write about every week. Another common question is: “Do you lie awake in bed every night coming up with all those weird and off-the-wall ideas?”
Well, my friends, ideas are always plentiful. They lurk around every corner. More ideas for topics lie around than pebbles on a gravel road.
I see myself surrounded by wonder every waking moment. A miracle pops up every second. By a miracle I mean something that happens that becomes utterly amazing when we take the time to examine it.
Some of us ignore most of these events. Some of us pause a moment and go on our way. Some of us tell someone about what we discover. Some of us reflect on it. Some of us write about it.
Our lives are filled with events that inspire awe, provoke thought, make us weep, make us smile, or maybe even give us a chuckle or two. All we have to do is pay attention. A world waits for discovery in a blossom on a weed.
Learning about great deeds in history can inspire us to strive for something, or make us admire those who do.
Recognizing our weaknesses can help us discover our strengths. Looking at one of our spectacular High Plains sunsets can make us think of the miracle of sunrise coming in the morning. The urge to find out about something we don’t know helps us realize how alive we are. Praising the accomplishments of others makes us see value in ourselves. Answers bring on more questions, and these bring on more answers (and questions).
Curiosity is infinite, and ideas make us search for meaning, meaning in everything we perceive or imagine. I doubt if I’ll ever run out of things to write about.
These things, and countless other possible topics, can make me lie awake at night wallowing in my thoughts. I always have something to think about. I always have something to discover. I always have something to talk about. I always have something to write about because seeing is more than looking, and listening is more than hearing.
Sometimes I notice “off-the-wall” things, such as the strength of an ant; the body language of a cat; the laughter of a baby too young to understand a joke; the power of an idea profound in its simplicity; the enormous capacity of my fellow humans for sorrow, joy, greed, and generosity; or how a maple leaf dances in a breeze.
Sometimes I notice the silliness or grandeur of an identical object, event, or act. Most of all, on close examination the commonplace becomes bigger than life, the miracle of the mundane.
So I write about my clumsiness in changing a kitchen faucet or the grace of a hawk circling over a field. I make up non-existent wildlife and talk about deserts as wetlands. I make fun of politicians and urge citizens to vote. I get curious about charcoal briquettes and let that lead me to discovering a high school with a fliver as its mascot. Any concept will become a surprise when we look past the surface.
I can think of only one thing all these columns have in common: No matter how they start off, I never quite know how they’ll end up. It’s like diving into a swimming pool over and over and seeing something different each time I come up for air. They all share this characteristic. And it all involves wonder because it’s just lookin’ around.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: