In my book club, the members read anything the host for the upcoming monthly meeting picks. Last night, we met to discuss E.B.White's The Points of My Compass. The book is out of print so Rick, the member of the club who selected it, secured copies on-line for everyone. I think the shipping costs exceeded the cost of the book. I kept wondering hy he selected this relic of a book.
In 1962 White assembled a collection of columns he had written for The New Yorker. I knew of him before reading the book, but now I know him better. He wrote about his observations of the world from his perspective, with the conceit being that the points of his compass were centered on his office at The New Yorker. Besides his work for the magazine he updated William Strunk’s Elements of Style, to this day a standard reference for writers. He also wrote for children, including one of my favorites and maybe yours, Charlotte’s Web. He was quite a character in many ways.
So it turns out that The Points of My Compass includes observations on people, nature and politics. On Tuesday I was on my way home from San Jose, Calif., after doing an on-site consultation, and because of the amazing business practices of airlines, had a two-hour layover in the Seattle airport, where I had the opportunity to watch coverage of the election.
In one of his columns, White wrote about the election of 1960 and the events that took place then. It is remarkable how nothing is new except the amounts of money that were spent in the respective elections.
I remain positive about the future of our country, particularly since we will not have a president who, for the next four years, needs to focus on getting re-elected and can actually continue to do the incredibly hard work of leading our country to a positive future.
That said, I am looking forward to changes in our political system that make our election process not consume so much money (billions of dollars) that could have been used for investments in improving America.
At the same time, I join White in reflecting that despite each generation’s best intentions to build on what came before we somehow seemed doomed to continue to relearn what we could have already known if we only spent some time reading history.
The only thing you can do is determine what the center of your compass is and make decisions about how to be involved in creating positive solutions for the entire body politic, not just yourself, by referencing it. Maybe more of that will happen in the next few years. —Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator forRemodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.