What do you say during times like this?
Not a lot of possibilities, really. Reassurances seem like platitudes; cynicism feels like fearmongering. Like most of us, my ability to influence what’s happening is limited. It’s not zero, and that’s something. It’s everything, really, because if we all make whatever small changes we can, large changes can happen.
Which sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it? But one other thing I know, along with the scope of my influence, is that I can’t predict the future. Reassurances are platitudes. I am also not psychic. Most days I choose to be hopeful.
We’ll see how well that goes.
I’ve been leaning heavily on comfort entertainment these days. I’ve watched Severance end-to-end seven, maybe eight times now. (OCD works like that, I may write recaps. Why not enter my little OCD brain with me?) I’m drawing again–a little!–although I have to say I’m mightily intrigued by ProCreate, which my kid has been using on a tablet since her birthday. (She is admittedly both more talented and more skilled than I am; she gets that from the other side of the family.) I read–some–but with a few exceptions, I’ve been reading books I’ve read before. And I play and re-play the same video games, optimizing my path, repeating the most satisfying scenes, heading for the familiar cut-scene endings.
I am not in the mood for surprises these days, it seems.
I’m writing old scenes for books already written, flashback bits that I’ll never show to anyone else, just because I like these people in my head and sometimes I want to live bits of their lives with them. I’m working on a book–so close to being finished, and yet that horizon keeps stretching out before me–that is full of almosts: almost organized, almost polished, almost where I want it to be.
I’m afraid of it, to be perfectly honest. It’s been a long time since I’ve buffed and polished a novel, and so much has happened since then. I like to think of myself as strong, as resilient, but the world spares no one, not even me. And doubts erode everything. Most days I can ignore the doubts, convince myself they’re irrelevant: the book has to get done anyway, and wringing my hands does nothing but waste time.
But writing is strange. Publishing is strange. Some days I see it so clearly, and I can do what needs doing without feeling raw, vulnerable, out of place. Other days? Well. There have been a lot of other days lately.
For all of us, I suspect.
Like a lot of white suburban kids from the 70s, I grew up with a lot of pretty lies. I learned fairly early they were lies–kids do, no matter what their parents wish, and they’ll trust adults more if adults are honest instead of, say, trying to have books yanked from the library–but I believed the part where we were trying to do better, that change was slow, that we just needed to take baby steps and wait and soon, very soon, everything would be Just Fine.
And I suppose I’ve known, for some years now, that a percentage of the country didn’t really want the same Just Fine that I did, but I assumed they’d come around. Sure, there were bad folks–ingrained racists, misogynists, homophobes–but they were in the minority, and if they acquired pockets of political power, it was only a temporary setback. I really did think most of us were rowing in the same direction, even if sometimes we squabbled about the methodology.
Now? I still believe there are more of us. But more of them seem to have the oars.
And there I go with the cynicism.
The world is exhausting right now, and we keep getting pulled from crisis to crisis, battle to battle, tragedy to tragedy. How do we cope when we don’t know what to do?
By doing the small things.
Next week I’ll take my parents’ cat to the vet for his annual appointment and rabies shot. Thanks to some lovely people I found through rover.com, he’s been happy and healthy with his humans, who love him dearly–and still recognize him–even if they can’t look after him without help anymore. Our own cats are fat and happy and wait listed for dental surgery. I feed them special dental food that’s in chunks the size of my thumb; I’m pretty sure they swallow it whole. We picked blueberries last week, and now there are muffins and lemon blueberry pie and a lovely cobbler, and still more fresh blueberries than we could ever eat. My kid finalized her freshman college schedule today, and spent time with a campus map, figuring out how to get to the places she’ll need to go. I worked on a book, and sold a few copies of the others, and did my required Duolingo.
The day was peaceful. Uneventful. I lean on days like this. I wish many, many more of them for all of us.