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My View: Praise can either be a blessing or a curse

By Marge McMillen

I’ll wager that most people have experienced something like I am about to describe, though in a different venue.

My husband and I were experiencing our first cruise and were taken in by the beauty of the ship. So much so, in fact, that in the late evening of our first day, Bob suggested we return to the ballroom, just to feel its majesty one more time.

When we did, there was not a soul there, but the mirrored ball was still spinning and the piped-in music filled the large, empty room. Bob and I took to the floor and danced, enjoying the fun of owning it all to ourselves.

We hadn’t seen a young man enter, so it was a surprise when he approached us and sought permission to ask me to dance. My husband willingly granted him such and I accepted his offer. What fun this was turning out to be.

As we danced, the young man told me I was a wonderful dancer, and I happily accepted his compliment. Then, seeing his attire, I asked if he was part of the ship’s staff, and he told me he was.

In answer to my question as to what he did, he informed me that he was the official dance instructor. What?

All of a sudden, my two feet, which up until then had floated across the floor, suddenly filled with lead. I became a robot, and I stumbled and stepped on his feet.

Oh my, he was a dance instructor. I had to be perfect, didn’t I? And, of course, in my attempt to be perfect, I became less so.

Through the years, I have enjoyed being a part of different activities, one of which was oil and pastel art, which I took up as a young woman. I sold a number of originals. Please check your paintings to see if one contains my signature – this, of course, is said tongue in cheek.

I also enjoyed acting. I was honored to receive a standing ovation at the end of my stint as Mrs. Daigle in “The Bad Seed.”

My latest activity is writing. Actually I discovered I had an affinity for this art form when I was a very young girl, when all of my friends and relatives told me they just loved the letters I wrote.

Keep in mind that this was decades ago, when very expensive long-distance phone calls were used only when someone died. All other communication was done with a pen and paper.

I couldn’t understand why people would praise me for my letter-writing since I never really put much thought into my correspondence. I just wrote what was in my heart. But if they liked what I wrote, that most certainly pleased me.

However, this constant praise did make me more aware of what I was writing, and though no one told me it became more stilted, I often wondered if it did.

It is now decades later, and I have taken up writing with a vengeance. Just for fun, I wrote and self-published six novels and a book of original poems. It seems I have discovered a new love.

And, best yet, I have had a number of My View columns published in The Buffalo News, and couldn’t begin to count the number of my letters that have been printed in Everybody’s Column over the years. So many, in fact, that now all of my friends praise my writing ability and tell me they search the paper every day, looking for something I’ve written.

Oh my, the pressure is overwhelming. Now if only I could think of something to write about.

Marge McMillen, who lives in East Amherst, is slowly adjusting to life without her beloved husband of 63 years.
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