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LIFE IS SHORT | Autobiography as Haiku

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page D01

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who regard themselves too highly and those who don't think of themselves highly enough. For an extreme variation of the latter, the road to redemption ends impossibly with perfection in all things. The perfectionist's pursuits may open any number of doors in life but always present the same conundrum: Would you want to be a member of a club that would have you as a member? Somehow the truly great seem to find their proper place. The rest of us spend our lives knocking on doors, searching for a home.

Neil Stylinski


Janis Johnston, Arlington. (Rebecca D'Angelo For The Washington Post)

Lavale, Md.

In a busy parking lot I search for a place to park the minivan. My 4-year-old spies an opening and, in appreciation of her helpfulness, I say, "Annabelle, you're a star!" Two-year-old Alex then points to himself and declares, "And I'm the moon!" "Yes, you are," I tell him. "You're the moon."

A few weeks ago I was explaining to the children about our relationship to each other. "Annabelle is my daughter, and Alex, you are my son." "No, Mommy," Alex rather emphatically reminds me, "I'm the moon!" Now here's a boy who knows his place in the universe.

Janis Johnston

Arlington

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