A Hell of a Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well, friends, it's been a hell of a year, has it not?  We swore in a new president (may the powers that be keep him healthy, brave and clear-headed), trudged our way through the marshes of financial chaos and near collapse, saw a resurgence of environmental concern (can I get a hallelujah!), and gave up more of our young (and some old) to swine flu than we care to think about.  So here we are, at the end of the year, the end of a decade.  Many of us are standing very still, possibly in shock, wondering what in the hell that was all about.  Wow.  Hell of a year, my friends.  Hell of a year.

In microcosm, the people in my world, be they in my town or elsewhere, have seen more upheavals crammed into this one year than seems to be strictly normal.  I don't know what the astrologers or news casters will have to say to sum up 2009, but from what I've observed, it's been a long, hard haul all the way up the mountain.  Now we just need to remember why we came this way in the first place. 

There have been so many disappointments.  I have raged my own wars and found very little solace.  The cliché it's been an uphill battle is almost too weak to be truly apt.  I have seen people give up on life, give up on their dreams and their very own souls.  Thankfully, I have also seen people pushing and punching and cat-clawing their way out of their self-destructive holes, fighting for purchase, fighting for their figurative and sometimes literal lives.  The fighters have made me proud, so proud I've wanted to cheer right out loud (with tears in my eyes, aye).  The ones who seemed to have given up have left me with a deep sense of sorrow and pain, but they may find their way yet… they're still alive, and while one still breathes, there is always hope. 

So now, a sense of settling dust, a moment to catch our breath and reflect on what just happened. 

We're here.  We can say that much.  And many of us have fought the battle of our lives.  (So far.  It's never good to push Fate too far on that score.)

Of course, as a society, there's still much work to do.  There's always work to do to clean up after a big upheaval.  But at least the way is getting clearer.  What's next?  In simple terms – clean up our messes; learn the meanings of love thy neighbor, harm none, and whatever other tenants and morals you live by that will require you to stop and consider your next move before you make it; and know thyself.  It's time to refocus and renew our personal vows, those things we believe in beyond all else.  It's time to be true to what moves us and makes life worth living.  And to remember that while we still breathe, there's still hope.      

On that note, let’s raise our glasses and ring in the new decade.  To life.

Your Soul in Print

Friday, December 11, 2009


I've taken a bit of a break of late.  Life's been hectic and it's been easier to read the works of others than to use words of my own.  But hopefully my little mental reprieve is coming to an end. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still reading, and plenty.  It's a happy addiction that I have no plans of curbing.  I've finally come to The Dark Tower, the final volume in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, and it is every bit as enthralling as the rest.  Of course, having recently finished Song of Susannah (book VI of the series, ya' ken), I now understand more fully than ever before just how very personal this story is to King.  That realization (underlined, bolded and lit up with crimson neon) made my heart actually go out to this man whom I have never met but whose works I have been following for nigh on 17 years (not quite 19, but nearly, very nearly).  Because I get it.  At least I think I do.  I understand that these words we write, fictional or not, these are pieces of our souls, on paper and in print for the world to see and live vicariously through.  I get the compulsion – the feeling that you can't not write it down, write something, by the gods.  And I understand how painful the process can be – the mind-numbing task of getting it all out, of taking it from the concept that seemed to explode in your head one day down to written words on paper, and trying for all you're worth to get it perfect, to do the story justice, for God's sake.  All you can do is get the words down through your own fumbling human hands, filtered through your limited human experience and your never-completely-adequate vocabulary.  When it's big, when it matters to you, sitting down to the computer (or to the blank page with ink pen in hand) is like going to church or entering the sacred circle, performing your sacred duty, and giving thanks to your muse (or whatever you call the place where your inspiration comes from) while simultaneously hoping they picked the right schmuck to interpret this beautiful (or horrible or devastating or hilarious… in the end, they're all beautiful) tale. 

Sai King, if it's like this for you, if it is still, then I get it. 

And so I wander through my own wooded forest; a place strange and unfamiliar, where the landscape can change at a moment's notice and the light is tricky; the land of the unfinished story.  It's been slow going and may take another year yet just to get it all down, between the full time job and the mental dry spells, but what choice do I have?  As I said before, there's that compulsion, that inability to turn away from that fascinating shimmer that is your story, even when the going is hard and the visibility is nil.  It's got me, this one, so I'll keep plodding along until I find my way to the end. 

In the mean time, I have my blog to make note of my observations.  In the future, I'll try to be more consistent with my reports.  I hope you don't get too impatient.  When the mind wanders, it sometimes takes the scenic route back.