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Essay Inspirations

John W. Pinkerton


Some mornings I'm just lucky.  The other morning I awoke to news out of Oregon that teachers need training that encourages “ethnomathematics.”---it seems that White supremacy manifests itself in the focus on finding the right answer when doing arithmetic.  You  can't make this stuff up.  It takes a liberal.  What a subject for an essay.  It's like  shooting fish in a barrel.  It is so easy, I think I'll put it on the back burner…just waiting for me to pick it up any time and run with it.

A lot of essays are prompted simply by memories.  The animal essays like “My Dog, My Hero” go way back.  Sometimes my essay subjects are old friends who have passed away: “My Friend Jim.”  My town sometimes causes me to write about it: “Our Town.”  My interest in art has caused me to write about the subject: “Art: It's My Nature.”  Being that we have and have had cats for years, that's another subject which comes up occasionally: “Counting Cats.”

After my first hundred essays, I began to wonder if I would run out of subjects about which I could write.  Then I realized that subjects of my essays are practically endless…be patient, John.

I think most of my subjects come from interaction with folks.  Folks say something that makes me think of a subject.  “What's All This Israel Stuff” was prompted by a coach friend asking me this astonishingly naïve question, “What's all this Israel stuff?”  “LSU and Other Things I Don't Lose Sleep Over”  was prompted by the agony over the fate of their college football teams some of the folks I know suffer.   “You're Not the Boss of Me” was a reaction to folks trying to tell me what to believe.  “The One-Eyed Man” resulted from a dream.  Although I may have written it anyway, “Holy-Moly! We Went to the Moon!” was probably brought to mind because I have a friend whom I correspond with regularly who made a career at NASA.  I don't write about political issues much, but just to keep me from busting a seam, I occasionally write one like “The Ol' Double-L, a Sovereign Nation” which was a reaction to the Obama administration.  Sometimes I write about historical figures I admire: “The Most Interesting Man in the World” is my thoughts on Thomas Jefferson.  Probably the oddest way I came to write an essay was “Javelina Yawns”:  I was watching TV one evening, when the close up image of a javelina caused me to yawn in response to its yawn. 

Although the pandemic has put a bit of a crimp in my personal interface with folks, which is a marvelous source of subjects for my essays, I've survived it so far, but I'm looking forward to the time when a friend's comment will lead to new subjects for my essays.