top of page

"What Are You Going to Do?" short story excerpt

Wednesday 10/25/23

People speak a lot about privilege as this thing that you have that you probably don’t deserve. At least that seems the implication to me. The specifics of the idea—the use of that word in that fashion—will pass, as much does. I’m not sure in how many years. Two. Ten. Fifteen. 100. Six months.

But a time will come when no one will know what that word meant in the context of a bygone era, even if there are still people—and there will be—who’ve been given what they haven’t earned, or are born into a favorable situation, or if they’re down in life because of what they lack or won’t or can’t do, and wish to call attention to others. Labels change, but not truths.

“What are you going to do?” my dad would say to me when we both realized something was true and all that was left was to accept that truth and adapt. He’d shrug, and I’ve never seen more veracity evinced in any nod intended to indicate the most affirmative, unflinching yes, than when he raised his shoulders that way. It’s a great question—a query of formidable uplift—because it also means that there’s something to be done.

My daughter loves Christmas. She told me that the best time for someone who has a searing (she can be a touch theatrical—while still sincere—in her word choices of late) love for the holiday is August. I asked her why, and she said because you can really look forward to Christmas then—it’s the season she cares about, not presents—now that it has come over the edge of the horizon. You’re able to sense and see it without the need for field glasses, but it’s also not about to be over, or in the process of being over.

Everything is in the process of being over, even before it starts, I sometimes wish to tell her, and that is why we must make the most of all that we can. But that doesn’t seem like what you should say to a fourteen-year-old girl. Then again, maybe that’s the person to whom it’s best to say it. I’ll think the matter over some more. She gives me lots of reasons to think, which is another reason—not that I lack for any—to love her. A bonus reason.

Is it wrong that bonus reasons might be my favorite? Or could it be that bonus reasons are the real reasons? The foundational reasons, and the foundation sneaks up on you after the house is built, and says, “I’m here, I got in in time, I support everything that is above me!” The root is the surplus and the surplus is essential.

What I told her instead is that the day after Christmas is a big one for me, because I am looking forward to what is next, and that includes this time come the following year. Another start is occurring. It’s just been born. Everything can be a start, and when everything is, everything is connected.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page