About the Name -- Why "BTW"?

There was a guy I knew once. A dear, sweet, deeply wounded soul who had plowed his brain under with smoke and booze. He hung out on the fringes of things, rarely participating. But he would occasionally jump into the middle of a conversation with "Oh, by the way..."

Then he would proceed to tell us something, out of the blue and connected to nothing, but something that was apparently of real importance to him, and which he delivered with earnestness and slow deliberateness. When he finished, he'd fall silent again.

We listened to his ramblings with a varying attention. Some of the faces that turned to him were fixed and polite, with eyes that were glazed over before they even reached him. Some were listening, prepared to be amused, or at the very least, to have something to snigger about later.

Some thirty years later, I finally know the meaning of his "by the way". He had a thought. And he needed to communicate it. Something that was vitally important to him, at that moment. Even if it was only an footnote to the rest of the world, or a joke, or a ... nothing.

He had one nod to polite conversation in his repertoire, and that was the "Oh by the way..." That was his way of asking for attention and, at the same time, acknowledging that it wasn't on our main path. It's not a loud or disruptive thing. Just a side note. A footnote. A somewhat apologetic diversion from the main.

This is my "oh by the way..."

What is important to me is the life of the soul, and the creativity that both springs from and gives sustenance to my soul. This "by the way" may not be valuable to anybody but me. But it's my gold.