When my father was a boy, his father was chosen to be Seafair’s King Neptune, reigning royalty of the city of Seattle. It was a huge honor, and of course my father couldn’t wait to brag to his friends at school. But before he had the chance, my grandfather (my generation called him Far Far), stopped him. Because of his affiliation with Boeing (he was an executive then), the committee felt it was a conflict of interest. They told him he was their first choice, but the honor would go to another man.
Still my dad wanted to brag. After all, he was young enough that “my father could beat up your father” taunts still reigned on the playground.
But Far Far would have nothing of it. He explained that if the man chosen for King Neptune–I’ll call him Willard Jones–ever found out he was second choice, he would be devastated.
That was the kind of man Far Far was. Born in Sweden, and the son of a minister, his stoicism and belief in a quiet humility ruled his every action.
Far Far died nearly twenty years ago, before this current fascination with the self rose to such heights. I wonder what he would say if I could explain to him why I blog. “Because I want to share my experiences, Far Far. I want to showcase my life. And let’s face it. I want to sell my book.”
I can imagine his reaction. He would look at me sternly, his right hand jiggling the coins in his pocket. He’d ask me for more. “There’s has to be another reason.”
I would explain to him that I am just catering to my audience. They ask me about my life. They want to know what it’s like to throw explosives on avalanche slopes, and trek through Bhutan and dive with sharks. People are interested in all this Far Far.
He’d twitch his large nose and clear his throat, unconvinced.
And so I am wondering today (this second day of being 40) about how I’d explain it to Far Far. Of course, I would mention that today’s world has shifted away from nightly news and into online media. I’d explain that readers need to care about the author–get to know her–before committing to her book. I would tell him that my dream of being an author has finally come true, and this is how it’s done these days. It’s all about self-promotion and making one’s own success.
But I’m not sure he’d be convinced. I’m not sure he could ever really get behind FB updates and twitter feeds, let alone several hundred word blog posts showcasing the inner workings of one’s heart.
I’m just not sure that my grandfather, my hero, would ever approve of all this.