On May 1, 2000, my first column was published on San Juan Islander. I asked the editors how often they wanted me to write, expecting them to say once a month. Instead, they wanted a weekly column. I remember thinking, at the time, that I would have said all I had to say in six months at the most. Now, it is twelve years later, and someone must still be reading my column because the editor keeps expecting me to write it.

Twelve years of weekly columns would be 624 essays, but I have run repeats 3-4 times due to illness or family emergencies. So I estimate that I have now written 620 columns which equates to just over 220,000 words. Who knew I had that much to say?

A few years into the column, a local writing instructor told me that writing weekly would be a good exercise for me; and it has been. Of course some columns have been better than others, and several probably weren't worth publishing. Still, the discipline of meeting weekly publication deadlines has been character building, especially when I had to overcome writer’s block to do it.

In my first column, I quoted these lyrics from Fred Small's song, Everything Possible:

"If you give your friends the best part of yourself / They will give the same back to you.”

"And the only measure of your words and your deeds / Will be the love you leave behind when you're done."

Today, as I write twelve years later, those words ring as true as ever, especially here on San Juan Island. It is the reason that I cherish living here. It is the reason that I keep sharing my stories and observations. It is the reason that I keep reflecting on the questions that I ask of myself and my readers.

So, now, I conclude with the same questions I asked on May 1, 2000. They are questions just as worthy for the times in which we now live as they were twelve years ago.

  • What are your strengths, and how do they guide the way you live?
  • What would you like to receive from others?
  • How could you give that same thing to them?
  • What would you like to be remembered for when you are done?

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley