Kage Baker took, as part of her basic philosophy, the statement: Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
She thought that was pretty much self-evident, in fact; so obviously accurate that it was largely overlooked, on a day-to-day basis. Who comments on the persistence, for example, of gravity? Nobody, because the way it works is a certainty. A common place. If it was known to fail and produce occasional, cataclysmic Earth-disolvement, it would be followed on the local news, she felt. You’d get a gravity reading, along with temperature and humidity and the likelihood of rains of frogs.
What attracted Kage to the precise description above was its concise brevity. (And the fact that it was written by John Lennon.) At any rate, she relied upon it as a core value, and really, really resented Life for being that way. She worked with single-minded stubbornness to avoid the complications, delays and outright disasters that are the way this process does its dirty work. She succeeded in this to a fault.
It didn’t always work, but as the years passed it worked more and more, better and better. Kage had just about hit on the perfect balance to prevent Life (in general) from interfering with her life (in specific), when Life sent the big guns to the front. Kage’s intent ignoring of Life’s interference with her plans probably helped It along when it made Its big play – cancer got a deeper foothold in her body while she wrote. And wrote. And wrote. She couldn’t stop Life in its attack, but she sure as hell succeeded in ignoring it.
That year-long battle between two forces of nature – cancer and Kage – has left me somewhat paranoid. I’d been consistently strong and durable all my own life, until Kage died; the costs of that year all arrived in one big box, marked Urgent and Unavoidable. I’ve been grimly adjusting to each corporeal catastrophe as it’s happened, but every time I think that box is empty, something else emerges from the packing peanuts.
This last week has been afflicted with some sort of GI malaise, and a sinus infection; bellyaches, headaches, and absurd sneezing fits. They’re all minor problems, but they interfere absurdly with such necessities as sleeping and writing. Really, who sneezes 20 times in a row? Nobody relying on a CPAP mask for night-time breathing, I can tell you that. It’s like being water-boarded, only with the air hose at a gas station … can you sprain your epiglottis? Because that sure sounds like something I would do.
But, hey! Kage was right, as usual (and so was John Lennon, for that matter). Suddenly I’m fragile. It’s part of my New Normal. I just have to deal with it.
I don’t have to like it, though. I’m not ignoring these slings and darts – I saw what can happen when you do that. But I really do have other plans, you know? Life’s gonna have to bend, at least a little, or I won’t play.