Uncommon Common Sense
By Bill Frayer
This will mark my final installment of “Uncommon Common Sense.” For exactly ten years, it has been a labor of love. I have enjoyed having the privilege of putting my thoughts down every month and receiving thoughtful feedback from readers through letters to the editor, email, and chance meetings on the street.
It all started in January 2008, when the Ojo editor Alejandro Grattan agreed to publish my series of three articles on critical thinking. He subsequently offered me the opportunity to continue writing on the same general theme as a monthly column. I wasn’t at all certain that I could think of anything interesting to write every month, but I agreed, not exactly sure where I was going.
In 2012, we decided to return to Maine permanently and became snowbirds in Ajijic. This past year, due to family health problems, we were unable to return to Mexico. We have a good life in our beautiful State of Maine, but our lives have changed.
I believe my monthly project has reached a natural end. Although I enjoy thinking about ideas to put into the column, I sometimes find myself covering familiar ground, as you might have noticed.
If there has been an overriding theme to my column, it has probably been my desire to find common ground, through rational discourse. We are facing treacherous times and sharp divisions. Despite our differences, most of us want the same things. Disagreement is fed not by sincere conversation and debate but by shrill voices on both sides.
The residents at Lakeside are a diverse group. You come from many backgrounds and professions. Our expat community is enriched every day by your passion and engagement. I have always enjoyed our interaction and conversation, even when we disagree.
I often joked to Fred Harland, with whom I helped host weekly TED talks during the winter season, that leading group discussions here is a snap. All I had to do is ask, “Well, what do you think?” to prompt a thoughtful hour-long discussion.
I’d like to thank Alex for providing me with this opportunity over the past decade. The list of people to whom I am indebted is too long to include here, but you know who you are: the many talented Lake Chapala writers, our kindly Mexican neighbors, members of my Unitarian fellowship, fellow snowbirds who loyally attend the TED lectures, my fellow teachers at the biblioteca, and those with whom I’ve had only fleeting acquaintance. My only regret is that I did not meet you earlier...
I am glad to have come across you
Even as the sun sets over the western shore
For you are a beacon to light my way
As I head into my dusk.
Where I feel unsure, you step deliberately
Where I am new, you show me your scars.
You are not like those I do not want to become
Who die slowly every day.
You live in the sun and bask in the heat.
How did you get to this twilight today?
What were you like at noon?
I can only guess.
Were you always walking in front?
Were you like me?
What have you lost in the dark afternoon?
Would that I could walk with you
For just one day in the sun
To look into your face
To see what you feared
And see what you loved
When the sun cast no shadows
On your fresh life.
I am glad to have
Seen you smile and heard your voice
In the evening light.
May we all remember to think clearly and love deeply.
Ed. Note: On behalf of both myself and the Tingen Family, I’d like to publically thank Bill for his many dozens of thought-provoking articles which have graced our pages over these past ten years. His “uncommon common sense” and generosity of spirit have long-since made him one of our most admired columnists.
He and his delightful wife, Pixie, will be greatly missed, but rather than bid them a final farewell, we’ll use the more hopeful Mexican phrase, Hasta La Vista—Until we see each other again.
Column: Uncommon Common Sense
Bill Frayer lived all of his adult life in Maine until moving to Mexico in 2007. He had a long career teaching writing, critical thinking, and communication at the community college and university level. He has published a critical thinking textbook and four volumes of poetry. Stirring up trouble with his column for the last eight years, he enjoys hearing from those who have strong opinions about what he writes. Now a snowbird back in Maine, he enjoys playing blues, eating lobster, and fishing with his granddaughter. In Ajijic he enjoys leading TED talks at LCS and talking poetry with his fellow poets.