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Tonight, while walking on the treadmill and trying to read the preface to a work by Friedrich Nietzsche, I couldn’t help but admire how brilliant he was and how masterful his words were.

I don’t know why I was reminded of an early morning when I joined a church group to pick apples from an orchard. We gathered before sunrise, shouldered bags and toted ladders to the various trees. The air was cold, and as I rose on tip-toes from a high wooden step to reach the furthest apples, I could see a mist across the top of the trees. Then the sun broke free from the mountains, and the brilliant morning light touched the highest branches, turning them to brilliant green. That sunrise over the orchard was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

Interestingly, at this point I read this: “…our ideas, our values, our yeas and nays, our ifs and buts, grow out of us with the necessity with which a tree bears fruit—related and each with an affinity to each, and evidence of one will, one health, one soil, one sun.—Whether you like them, these fruits of ours?—But what is that to the trees! What is that to us…” I couldn’t help but think, 1. He is wonderful with words, and 2. I don’t believe that he was that indifferent.

So I thought about apples and words and how as an author, I struggle and prune and water and hope my tree will produce fruit that people will enjoy. They may be small apples, a bit soft, and perhaps spotted, but after the months and months of long hours, I hope they will be received kindly.

I am determined to read Nietzsche critically, to recognize the errors of a man who not only denies God, but with an intelligent use of his craft, persuaded many, and yet, I cannot deny that I admire (even more than that) his use of language. Next to his (which my book would never be placed), my story is as a rain drop next to the mighty (albeit muddy) Mississippi. And how dare I criticize someone’s work while I am setting my own out there?

I think anyone (even the clever devils), who create something that is a piece of themselves, representing their mind, their experiences, their struggle to make something of value, also shrink in fear, less the critics are harsh. Like Shylock the Jew in Merchant of Venice, we cry, “Hath not a [writer, artist, musician, etc.] eyes? Hath not [we] hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as [you]? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”

So I will be merciful toward Nietzsche, though not converted.