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A Good Problem to Have

I accompanied a group of students to a college campus last weekend. We were lucky to have a representative from a student club with our group. During the exploration activity, I approached him. At the very least, I wanted him to know I was grateful for his time.

“Thank you,” I began. “For coming.”

“Your Spanish is good,” he offered. “I heard you say a few words before, but just now I could tell it was fluent.”

I smiled; a bit hesitant to take the compliment.

“How did you learn it?” He continued to engage.

“Guatemala. I lived there ten years.”

“Wow,” he smiled. “I only lived in Mexico for five.”

Somehow, I continued to describe not only my experience with Spanish but Kaqchikel, the Mayan language I learned what seemed more and more like uncounted dreams ago. “I was never great, but it was helpful. Many women, children, don’t speak Spanish as their first language.”

For some reason, to deflect, perhaps, I added, “That one comes out now, because I’m learning Hebrew for my niece and nephews. It’s hard when other languages come out. Just now, when I first answered the girls, I said ‘yes’ in Hebrew not Spanish.”

He beamed back at me, “Yeah, that happens when I’m talking to my friends, but I was just talking to my mom. Spanish comes out.” He shrugged, “You know, it’s a good problem to have.”

A good problem to have. . .

For the rest of the afternoon, I swirled that phrase around on my tongue, between my lips, through my ears.

Just a few days ago, I celebrated Thanksgiving, at best a holiday that centered gratitude. As if to inhaled the possibilities more deeply, I took time off to reengaged with my next novel opportunity, an unintentional nod to National Novel Writing Month.

Words. So many words.

It’s true sometimes organization or purpose could be lacking.

But words wait.

Mine were in computer files and endless lists. Unlike so many things we place value on. . . time. . . money. . .even relationships. Once added or saved each one, they didn’t disappear.

Words belonged to themselves.

Messy manuscripts. Clumsy conversations. It’s daunting when they escaped the calculations so carefully made and yet, their very existence was, as my conversation partner described,

A good problem to have.

A problem, that was how I usually defined any slip up. Yet, this young man gave me pause. His phrase instead said something else. It told me I was awash in so many words that I had extra options, different answers.

A good problem to have.


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