Insight For The Modern Man

Craig Jones 
Legacy Columnist

I found out that my twice-weekly blog posts (Notes From the GratiDude) each take about three minutes to read. I learned that because our friend helped me get set up on a platform called Medium, which I knew nothing about. She’s been a cheerleader and advocate for getting these notes “out there” more in the virtual world and is an expert in such matters. I’m no expert and was grateful for her help.

E-mail subscribers all see this at the end of my posts:

You can now find (and read!) Notes from the GratiDude on Medium.com, an online platform dedicated to the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers to bring the smartest takes on topics that matter. This humble author would be grateful for your follow and, if you’re happy with the post, share a clap or two, which can be found on the left side bar of the post. You are also welcome to leave a comment or share the post on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!”

One of the stats available is the average time to read, which I had never thought about, even though I’ve seen it on other online publications. It got me thinking about how long (or short) a time three minutes really is. It’s five percent of an hour, of course, which sounds like not much. If you’re in a rush it does seem like a lot. At the end of an NFL game three minutes can be a very long time indeed. I took a survey for the Red Cross after recently donating blood. They said it would take three minutes and it didn’t seem very long. I think one could make a long list of activities that take three minutes. Some would feel short and others would feel long.

I see other statistics every week on Friday which tell me how many views I’ve had, how many read-throughs, and how many fans. No matter what the numbers were, I told myself to be grateful for each and every one of  them. I said thank you every Friday and also pretended it didn’t matter to me what the stats looked like, but of course that’s bullshit. I cared a lot.

The advice I got early on in writing my blog was to concentrate on the writing, not on the technology. That would all take care of itself eventually. I took that advice, just kept writing, feeling my sphincter tighten when I pressed “send” and “publish” and told myself that whenever I saw triple figures in views and read-throughs I would reward myself with a bottle of really expensive single malt scotch.

I told my wife about my plans to celebrate this future win, though I didn’t actually think it would happen, to be honest about it. Then, don’t you know, my medium stats ballooned because someone unknown to me, out there in the ether, had attached one of my older posts to a newsletter he sent out and I got way more views and reads than I was used to. It was a real thrill, and I thought, “well, I guess I can get myself that bottle of single-malt now.” But there was always a thought in the back of my mind that it was a fluke. A one-time gift.

I was all excited about it, and I told her and she said OK it’s time to get that bottle of scotch, and I said let’s just see if it goes on another week or two. I also want to think this through a little bit and get just the right whisky. I like a lot of them, and I want to get the perfect one for a reward.

The next week came along, and I was still over triple figures in a way I hadn’t expected. While we were out doing errands, she said let’s look for that bottle of scotch, and I said no let’s wait because I need to do a little more research.

Then the third week happened in the same way, and I came home to a bottle of 16-year old Lagavulin Islay single-malt scotch whisky. She had called one of our good friends who always has a new one for me to try when we get together for dinner as couples. I had told her I like it really smoky and he told my wife to get this bottle for me.

I’m not sure how serious I really was about celebrating my win. It sounded good, but if I hadn’t mentioned it to my wife, I probably would have kept waiting until I was over a thousand or a million views. Not sure what would have been enough. I learned that you have to celebrate all the wins, even if you think they’re nothing.

When will it ever be good enough? Do I have to be Tolstoy?

Peter Matthiessen addressed this in one passage in The Snow Leopard. He wrote about how: “The absurdity of a life that may well end before one understands it does not relieve one of the duty (to that self which is inseparable from others) to live it through as bravely and as generously as possible.”  

It takes some balls to celebrate wins and live bravely even if you don’t know how it’s all going to turn out.