Winter, with a Voice

They say it’s going to snow tomorrow.

“Who’s they?”

Will you shut up. I’m not writing that kind of dialogue right now.

“What kind of dialogue are you writing?”

Shut up! I’m not writing any kind of dialogue. I don’t need you, or any other voice, for help with this. I just want to talk about snow.

“Oh. Got it. Sorry.”

Okay, so… Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow. There is even a blizzard warning up for the afternoon. It’s almost enough to get my hopes up. But I’ve been disappointed so many times, it’s hard to get too excited. I know we got some snow last year, but it still didn’t feel like a proper winter.

So far, the change in our winter weather feels like the biggest personal impact climate change has had…

“Oh. A political post. You haven’t done one of those in years.”

It’s not a political post. I’m talking about winter.

“Yeah, but climate change is so charged with partisanship these days.”

Hmm. I suppose you might be right. But this isn’t about politics. Just that I worry about not having proper winters anymore. We never got a lot of snow around here, but when we did, it stuck around. Now we get melts in January and February. During my favorite season. It’s depressing.

Anyway, sorry the repeated interruptions. Sometimes the voices get restless. And if I haven’t done any writing for them in awhile, they get really restless.

Back to winter.

I have always found peace in the snow, in the cold of winter. The world grows quiet, still. Sound is muffled. It’s a time for introspection, for rest, for regrouping. It gives reasons for drinking hot tea while curled up under blankets and cats. A season of long nights, beautiful skies, and twinkling lights. It brings a softness and peace to the world. Without its pause, it feels as though the world will never stop. It will just keep going and going until it wears itself out or tears itself apart. Winter is our chance to step back and consider what really matters.

So even thought I might be let down again, I still have hope for snow tomorrow. Hope that we might get a little peace. The moon needs something to reflect off of, after all.

“That was nice.”

I didn’t ask you.

Grateful

You know the voice in your head that tells you when something is a bad idea? My voice is apparently a late sleeper and only chimes in long after I’ve already followed through with the bad idea. It is almost certainly asleep right now. And since it’s quiet, I can do whatever I want, such as post this little meditation. Later, when I can’t sleep, we’ll all know what’s keeping me up.

On Thanksgiving, as thoughts turn to gratitude, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for suicide. I do not expect many to understand this, but suicide – or rather the thought of suicide – is a source of comfort. Knowing that the possibility of escape exists reduces the horror of the future. There is consolation in knowing that if it stays bad – or becomes worse – there is a way out. We are not trapped in this life, this world. We can take control of our own fate, rather than waiting for the world to end our misery. This is no small comfort. This awareness also makes it possible to make it one more day. I can give the world more time precisely because I know I can cut that time short. Knowing that I can end the pain whenever I want gives me some reason for trying just a little longer.

Our society generally treats suicide as either immoral or an irrational act or, paradoxically, both. The suicide threatens our view of life. Perhaps it is not as good, not as desirable as we want to believe. It is not enough for only some to love life; everyone must share in – and by sharing, confirm – that love of life. The suicide threatens to undermine our (often uncritical) view of the value of life.

Yet the suicide is not offering a general condemnation of life. The suicide declares that their life is not worth it, not that no one’s life is. The act of murdering others is a judgment on the worth of their lives, but the suicide only makes a judgment for their own life. Of course we may disagree about their estimation of their life’s worth, but that is made from the external perspective, not the internal. But the internal evaluation is the one that matters. For I am the one who must live my life; no one else can do that for me.

Taking away the possibility of suicide then, is to take away the comfort it offers. The knowledge that I am free to make a different judgment on my life makes it easier to hold off making that final judgment. Those who absolutely reject suicide, will reject this notion as well. But that rejection, that desire not to contemplate suicide is already sufficient to avoid the fate of the suicide. The judgment of the suicide is irrelevant to them, and not something to fear. The value of an individual’s life, to that individual, can only be decided by that individual. The suicide’s judgment, then, has no bearing on your judgment. But the reverse is also true.

The hope then, offered by suicide, is merely the knowledge that tomorrow can be the last day. So there is nothing to lose by seeing what today has to offer. And the moment it all becomes unbearable, finally, there is an escape. Until that moment, perhaps there is something that might make it better.

Teiwaz – Warrior Self

The rune is a simple arrow pointing up.  It signals the spiritual warrior, the energy of such a warrior.  Thus did it become, in my mind, the warrior self.  In this sense, we are all spiritual warriors.  We all do battle with the self.

The hardest fight is with the self.  Overcoming your impulses and your own doubt is the only challenge that really matters.  Wrestling with God is easy by comparison.  There is nothing anyone can do to you, not even God, that can be more hurtful than what you can do to yourself.  You know your biggest fears, your deepest doubts, more thoroughly than anyone else does.  You know them from the inside and can use them against yourself in ways others cannot even fathom.

It is a solitary struggle.  Try as hard as you might, you cannot escape yourself.  And all the help others offer can do nothing about the nagging worry your inner self can bring to bear in opposition to you.  At 3 AM you have no one else to help you fight for yourself.

Even if you win, the challenge is always waiting in the wings to be rejoined.  Every setback risks an “I told you so.”  And yet, without the fight, without the willingness to wrestle with the self, what is left?  What else would we have?

Life is about pushing forward, about bringing something from nothing.  We begin as nothing and struggle to make something.  It is against the self that we must work.  Though we fail, it may be enough to know that at least we did not give up.

83.7 Percent

“Well, that’s most of them.”

“How is that most of them?  There are still a bunch of boxes on the truck.”

“Yeah, but this is more than half of them.”

“Most isn’t just more than half.”

“Yes it is.  What do you think it is?”

“It’s…  I don’t know…  Most.  Like, nearly all?  Certainly more than just more than half.”

“So is 60 percent most?”

“No.”

“70 percent?”

“Look, I don’t know.  75 percent maybe?  Or 90 percent?  It’s not a hard and fast number.  I just know that it’s more than 51 percent.”

“You’re crazy.”

“No I’m not.  Ask anybody.  They’ll tell you that most is more than just 51 percent.”

“Talked to everyone, have you?”

“Of course not; it’s just common knowledge.”

“How is it common knowledge if I don’t know it?”

“Well, maybe you just missed that day in school.”

“I repeat, you’re crazy.”

“Well, then, if most of the boxes have already been moved, you shouldn’t mind getting the rest yourself.”

“Ha, ha.  Nice try.  Let’s get back to it.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Summertime

The sun hung high overhead in an otherwise empty sky.  The air was still and heavy with heat.  He made his way down the street looking for some sort of reprieve, but there were no trees and no obviously open businesses in which he might seek shelter.  The sun seemed determined to melt him.  As the sweat dripped down his back and off his forehead, he became convinced it would succeed.

A single car drove past him, kicking up dust and making it even harder to breathe.  He hated the world at that moment.  There was nothing about it that was good.  Nothing he could think of, anyway.  Something cool, something wet.  He didn’t want much.  Just something that could break up the oppressiveness of the day.

Despite his willing it, no cloud appeared that might produce rain, or even hide the sun for a few moments.  All he could do was keep walking and hope he might come across something to provide some relief.  Above him, the sun continued to beat down, refusing to show even the slightest mercy.

To Necessity, the Mother of Invention

For much of my life, I’ve had insomnia.  My mind races with ideas.  It isn’t anxiety, not always.  Just ideas going through it and distracting me from sleep.  Perhaps it’s that I’m really a night person.  When I’ve had the chance to work night shift, it seems to suit me.  Whatever the case, since I was a teenager, I’ve always had trouble falling asleep at night.  Often, to try to quiet my mind, I’d tell myself stories.  It’s something I’ve done for almost as long as I can remember.

These stories were often indistinct, the inventions of a mind too tired to be awake and too restless to sleep.  One character regularly figured into the stories early on.  His name was Jack.  A roguish sort, heart of gold, rescuer of children.  Mainly, he was the guy who kept me safe from all of the terrible things in my mind at night.  Jack would be distilled and morphed into different characters in later stories I would write, but he started as my shield against insomnia.

I mention any of this only because there is another common feature to many of those stories.  They often began with the phrase “I need you to do something.”  The words were often spoken by an older man, white hair, long grey beard.  The “something” was never described.  It appeared in my mind like a prelude before jumping right into the action.  The “something” would be revealed as the story unfolded.  It was my version of “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”  The phrase set the stage, and I could relax into the story, eventually falling asleep.

As anyone who has ever kept a pen and notebook by their bedside could tell you, if you don’t write down your ideas when they happen, they get lost easily.  Probably none of those stories were wroth writing down.  But as I sat here, trying to write a story beginning with “I need you to do something,” I found myself wishing I could recall them.

Pen and Paper

A couple of decades ago, I tried to write on my computer.  For some things, I still do.  Writing emails or academic papers seems to go just fine on a keyboard.  But for prose, fiction, and journaling, I never got fully comfortable with the computer.  Even after writing my first novel on a computer, I found myself going back to pen and paper.

Mind you, this is a completely personal preference.  I do not think one way is inherently better than another.  It’s just that I started writing long before I got a computer, and pen and paper are the means I used.

It probably helps that I love office supplies.  Even as a kid, I enjoyed those stores as much as toy stores.  My dad and grandpa worked out of my grandparents’ house, and the basement always had pens, pencils, note pads, file folders, and so on.  I never wanted for the tools of writing.

Over the years, I have had different favorite pens and different preferred notebooks (composition notebooks, anyone?).  Generally, these have been inexpensive, though I admit that my current favorite notebooks fall on the pricier side.  (I still use inexpensive legal pads for a lot of my writing, however.)

The other day, we were walking by an art supply shop.  On the door was an advertisement for a limited edition Cross pen, Star Wars themed.  I’ve only ever had one Cross pen in my life, an engraved one given to me by my sister.  Normally, I wouldn’t consider such an item, but I thought I might splurge.

While looking over pens, I asked about fountain pens.  I’ve never used one before, but I was curious.  Now I have three bottles of ink, which together cost more than the pen I bought, and I can safely say I have a new favorite pen; my most expensive favorite yet.  It is easily the most fun.  And luckily, the ink washes off of my skin very easily.

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