I’m not sure what it is. A bright sunny day in a cloudless sky, perhaps. The perfect temperature (at our house as it varies widely on our little island) of 74 degrees. Maybe it is the fact that I lived much of the past 15 months in suffering and fearing that the end was near. . . and now, not so much. But I feel this wave of optimism. It isn’t just about me. My future, even with bone marrow results that I’m happy about, is not so assured. Nor is the life of any of us. I talked about having discussions with my oncologist about my mortality. He was trying to give me a few years. He was 15 years younger than me and in excellent health, but was killed by a thoughtless act of a drunk driver. It was surreal. I was envying his longevity and now he’s gone.
Did I mention that I went sea kayaking on the sea (aka Puget Sound) for two days straight? It used to be my # 1 sport. But after my diagnosis I was too weak to paddle. Then too weak to carry a kayak. I had enough strength as of three months ago, as I did kayak around our lake and now do so almost daily (if I’m not sailing). But the hold up was not having a rack to carry the kayak to the beach. Yesterday, I took the three hours to re-tool my Defender’s rack so it would hold a kayak.
I feel optimism about this mess that the world is in. With change, there is always suffering and struggle. The world is changing, and I hope for the better. I think it was the conservative hawk Donald Rumsfeld who said (about Iraq at the time) that Democracy is messy.
The thing I don’t feel good about and that’s the distortions and lies that comes with the present world of social media and niche realities (pick your news outlet and you pick your reality). But I do hope that we have reached the bottom. That people will seek truth again, real truth. Not the comfortable truth or a niche right wing or left wing truth, but facts without distortions. Truth does exist. If you listen to the real historical Jesus, factual truth was his highest agenda. All sin begins with a lie somewhere. But the so-called followers of Jesus are some of the greatest distorters of reality.
Someone asked me once if I wanted to write Christian novels? Nope. Never. The reason is because I love reality. In order to write a Christian novel, you have to distort reality so far, it really should be a type of science fiction. I tried to write a Christian children’s book once and received the guidelines from several Christian publishing houses. Now these guidelines were not just for their children’s genres but even adult fiction. But there could be no “swear words” used, even by the bad guys. The bad guys must always lose and the good guys always win. Then there were all these crazy things, no alcohol mentioned, no smoking mentioned, women submissive to the men and on top of everything, the main characters must smile and be a peace all the time. That’s my example of the distortion of reality.
Speaking of writing. For my own writing enhancement, I’m trying to digest a novel or two per week. I went for a long time picking novels based on them being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. I discovered a long list of fantastic novels, with my top three being; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. These authors wrote other books that were not as good as those I’ve mentioned. I’ve been chewing on Stones of Summer by Dow Mossman for about a year. Great book, but long and I keep loosing it.
Then I took a detour into books that were highly successful, financially and by sales. That literary tour was like getting off the scenic byway (think of the North Cascade circle route via highway 20 or the Blue Ridge Parkway out east) and venturing into a dirty eight lane freeway around LA. Those highly successful books were a huge step backwards from the really good books I had been reading.
I just returned to the award winning books and the first author I discovered is Gilly Macmillan and the book is Odd Child Out. It is like driving off that dirty, smoggy, busy freeway and back onto the gorgeous two-lane black top highway. It felt so good to be back to fine writing that I started to listen to the book before I went to bed last night and ended up listening to it for most of the night (and thus little sleep).
I’ve finished fourteen chapters of my new novel Retribution; Aleayn Bialeayn (BTW Aleayn Bialeayn is Arabic العين بالعين for “an eye for an eye.” I want each book that I write to be better than the one before. I’m looking forward to learning what I got right and what I got wrong with Ristretto Rain (Boy do I miss those characters. While writing it, Halem and Winston were my best friends).
I do feel very sad for my brother Gary and think of him daily. He is suffering horribly and knowing how that is, makes me feel his grief. Now that I know suffering, I know how horrible it can be. Even worst than death. According to him and his doctors, he is in the process of dying form his own blood cancer. I still pray for a miracle.