“One was no doubt a meddlesome fool…”

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

“One was no doubt a meddlesome fool; one always is, to think one sees peoples’ lives for them better than they see them for themselves. I always pay for it sooner or later, my sociable, my damnable, my unnecessary interest.”

–Henry James

I hereby admit I’m meddlesome for I think I see the lives of others better than they see themselves and if this was my only offense I should be silent but the meddlesome are inclined to talk and that’s my problem. My damnable blather.

But before you give up on me let me add that I’m working on it.


What does “I’m working on it” mean?

Sharpening self-recognition mainly.

The meddlesome don’t like themselves.

They love gossip.

Gossip is mischief and bathed in insecurity.


The question I must ask is do I want optimism and idealism?

Being meddlesome doesn’t get you there.

A secondary question is how can you give advice if asked without the assumption of inherent superiority?

Henry James: “Even a loaded life might be easier when one had added a new necessity to it.”


Ah the new necessity, the human. Caring for others whether they’re in your family or not. Volunteerism. Listening to strangers. Rescuing animals.

James did not mean a “loaded life” to signify drunkenness.


When the great opera singer Enrico Caruso was very young and still unknown he summoned his courage and knocked on Giacomo Puccini’s door. He told the composer that he’d come to sing for him.

After he sang, Puccini said, “who sent you to me–God?”

Afterwards he composed operatic roles for Caruso. Puccini recognized the new necessity.


Caruso later joked that Puccini had eaten all the ducks in Italy. The man loved duck hunting. It’s good to tease your friends for if done with affection it’s a way of not taking yourself too seriously.


Thus endeth the sermon.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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