By John Gladden
For my money, E.B. White was the best American essayist of the 20th century, maybe ever.
The longtime “New Yorker” writer and beloved author of “Charlotte’s Web” gave us this pearl:
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
It’s the story of my life.
I really should pick up sticks (improve the world, or at least my yard), but what I really want to do is play with my tractor (enjoy the world).
I should improve my health by not putting salt on my oatmeal, but I enjoy it so much better that way.
I should sit down with a pen and paper and write a good old-fashioned letter, but email offers more immediate gratification.
I have writing of my own to do (Would this improve the world? Uh, probably not.), but I would rather enjoy E.B. White’s writing.
I really should help my wife with the dinner dishes, but I’d rather walk by and give her a squeeze while her hands are in the sink.
I should share the first rhubarb and asparagus and strawberries from the garden with my family, but most likely I will scarf them down myself when no one’s around.
I should mind my waistline and eat just one peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but I would enjoy downing three.
I ought to put on the radio and catch up on the news, but I’d rather play a Blue Rodeo CD loud enough to rattle the woodwork.
I should get out the lawnmower and change the oil, but I’d prefer to go to Allardale Park for a walk.
I really ought to run errands while my daughter is at soccer practice and be able to cross several items off my to-do list, but I sure enjoy the precious reading time while I sit in the truck and wait.
I should improve our heating bill by replacing our house’s 179-year-old doors and windows, but it would break my heart.
I know creeping myrtle and Dame’s Rockets are invasives and the responsible thing would be to uproot all that are growing around the house, but I think they’re too pretty for that.
I ought to improve my knowledge by reading new books, but it seems I keep going back to old favorites.
I should wash my truck more often, but I think we both feel happier when it’s got a little mud on it.
I should cut down the shaggy, weedy wild black raspberries and clean up the overgrown places around the yard, but man, do I love wild black raspberry jam on toast in January.
It would improve my disposition if I got some rest and went to bed at a decent hour, but the Tribe is playing on the West Coast and I’d sure like to hear the game.
Driving to the post office would take less time, but riding my bike is more enjoyable.
I should improve my face by shaving more often, but I like to tell my wife I’m saving her lots of money on razors and shaving cream.
I should further improve my appearance by trashing all my worn-out jeans and T-shirts, but they are so dang comfortable to wear.
I should improve my electric bill and replace the old light bulbs in my house with more efficient ones, but I can’t bring myself to throw away things that still work.
I probably should watch educational programs with my kids, instead of “Wipeout,” Monty Python movies and “The Simpsons,” but it’s fun to laugh together.
I should be working in the garden, but I’d rather sit on the ground, with my back against a catalpa tree and a cup of coffee in my hand, and soak in the sights and sounds and smells of spring.
I ought to stay at my computer and work a little more today, but in April, there’s so much in the world to enjoy.
This makes it hard to plan the day.