Bounty

It’s a great word, “bounty.” It can mean a price upon one’s head. It’s a brand of paper towel. It was a ship which, if my memory serves, Marlon Brando once took by mutiny.

I might have been able to find you a picture illustrating bounty that used the same font, but the accompanying image may have contained a video game character carrying a severed head. So… abundance!

But it can also mean an abundance. It’s that sort of bounty I’d like to discuss. [Impromptu PSA: if you would like a nice graphic to depict this variation of bounty, search for abundance instead. Sadly the majority of images for the title word involve bounty hunters, hearkening back to definition #1 above. We live in a sad broken world. You’re welcome.]

But here’s some good news, he said, referring to his parenthetic statement. The opportunity to enjoy a bounty is within reach of everyone, if only they can identify those things of true value which will enrich their existence. For me that manifests itself primarily in two forms.

I love how it feels when my pen touches the page

One is writing. I find everything to do with the act of writing is a source of enrichment. I love to journal about an idea for a project. I like to jump in and start writing almost at once, so that I can capture that initial germ and attempt to incubate it. I love researching, both in advance of the serious writing and in the midst of it. I love revising the first draft, “elevating it,” I call it. I love to send the book to the publisher and I love to see it on my e-reader, and oh my GOD do I love holding a copy in my hand. I love writing, and I love having written. I love to talk about writing, [Check out the podcast Good Sentences, where you can hear me joined by my friend, writing partner, and co-host Craig A. Hart as we do just that]. And obviously I’m down with writing about writing. Otherwise this whole blog would probably be a series of grocery lists, most with “milk” written twice and a few where I forgot to add “tea for Kim,” and heard about it later.

The other life-zone in which I’ve come to experience bounty is my friends and family. I don’t want to short-sell the fam, so let’s chat about them first.

These guys are the bomb! (Bombs?)

I’ve spoken about my battles with depression and the years spent pretty much incapacitated by it. Through all those days my wife never faltered in her commitment to me. My children never wrote me off, and my dogs never failed to greet me with wagging tails. They’ve continued to be amazing in the years after those darker ones, as I’ve embarked on my writing career. They were my fans before I ever believed I’d have fans.

And friends? I am sometimes tempted to believe that here lies the greatest bounty. Again, taking nothing from my family, who are fully vetted awesome humans, my friends have chosen to fill that role. And while it’s true that my wife chose me as well, (to this day I can’t believe she did), my kids just got stuck with me. Turns out they like me, but they didn’t have to and would have still qualified as family. With friends there is nothing requiring them to give me a second thought. [Next Impromptu PSA: If you’re not a fan of the TV show, don’t try to illustrate your blog post based on a search of the word “Friends.” You are, once again, quite welcome.]

I am in frequent contact with friends that date as far back as high school. I am able to see some of these folks face to face, though not as often as I’d like, and via social media, perhaps more often then they’d prefer. Then there are many, many friends who I’ve met in the years since. College friends, friends I made during the drunken years, friends that I’ve come to know since I started my family. All of whom enrich my existence.

There are friends who I know only through the internet, and although we’ve never met face to face have shared some pretty serious stuff and listened as I’ve shared mine. Don’t ever let anyone shame you for your online-only friends!

When your online-only friends turn into in-the-flesh friends, and… beer is involved. (Yours truly, Erik Therme, and Craig Hart, hanging out in a nearly abandoned college bar. I’ve had that effect on bars SINCE college.)

Because on occasion they can become much more. Consider this image from the summer of 2018 when my wife and I made the 900-ish mile drive to meet Craig Hart for the first time, (after an online friendship of seven years) and he called another Iowa City author of note, Erik Therme to join us for a pitcher (or [insert crooked number here]), who according to a reliable source said, “Aw, do I hafta?”

For me it has made all the difference, this finding others who dip into the same well of bounty as myself. People who, like me, are writers because they must be writers. Because try as they might, they can’t stop writing, even if, for some inexplicable reason they decided they should stop. Whether anyone reads the words they wrangle or not, they have to write. These people are me and I am them.

So when we talk about bounty, about abundance, I would have you seek yours in the way that best fits you. I would have you recognize that what others might see as a lean and rueful life, you might awaken to each day with a joy that almost cannot be contained. Seems to me like you’re in the driver’s seat. Seems to me like you’re free to walk in bounty. And it’s a long, crazy, winding walk. But what the hell.

I’m gonna. Come on. Let’s.

As Sylvester the Cat once sang, “You never know where you’re going till you get there.”

Don’t forget…

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