Writing About Touchy Subjects and Wild Burros

Literature Blogs

I’ve been thinking about touchy subjects and wondering why they are such. I think I’ve got it figured out. These sensitive subjects fall into one of two categories: 1) You can be very emotional about said subject, or 2) your intended recipient can be very emotional about it.

Most people dread conflict. This can be a good thing if it keeps you safe. But conflict is essential in interesting writing.

In life, it’s simpler to avoid differences of opinion or experience. However, by doing so, you end up locking yourself in your little box and don’t let any of “them” come in. You also allow eureka moments pass you by.

I’m reminded of wild burros in South Dakota. The first time to the park, we stopped our van as they surrounded us. They rubbed against our vehicle with us safe inside, windows up and doors locked — because everyone knows how those smart animals can climb in cars and drive away. Only a few minutes of having twenty burros lick with their huge tongues and rub their dripping noses along every window did we decide to try to break from the herd so we could throw up and then get to a car wash before heading home.

The next time to the park, I saw someone get out of their car and hand feed the animals bread slices.  The burros didn’t trample each other, or her. They also didn’t excrete all over her car.  She talked to them and pet them. They weren’t even rude to each other, but waited patiently for their turns.

We started saving up end-pieces of bread and stuck them in the Burro Bag in the freezer. When we got a full bag, we’d head south to the park to hand-feed and stroke the wild animals. (Warning: This is NOT a suggested activity with bison or grizzlies.) We never again had to wash our van after a visit to the Wild Life Loop.

Moral of this story: If you stay in your glass house, and only view the world from inside your locked vehicle, you will get slimed. But by getting out among those who are different, you may find you will delight in their company.

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