Kage Baker believed that you should never tell a dream before you ate breakfast: if it’s a good dream, it won’t come true, but if it’s a bad one – it promptly will. I’ve seen her leap out of bed, run into the kitchen and immediately bolt a piece of bread or a mouthful of leftovers, because she had a story idea in her sleep and wanted to tell it right away.
She believed that vows must be kept, especially to the gods; therefore, while she bargained with divinity all the time, she never made promises unless she did it very loudly and in sacred places. She chose places like under the dew line of ancient trees, or waist deep in the ocean at midnight, or standing in a thunderstorm with her hair standing on end from the static electricity. She said the gods would know she was serious then.
She believed that resolutions should be simple and direct, so you could remember them. Also, so you couldn’t talk yourself out of them while tripping on picky little details. Kage never made life-altering changes, not in wide sweeping movements. She made lots of tiny changes, a day or so at a time. And it almost always worked.
I’ve always been a fan of the wide, dramatic changes, myself. With an audience, as often as possible. Sometimes it’s even worked – I can be very determined, myself … but more often, I got the changes made by keeping quiet about it and just going along step by ordinary step. At one point in my youth, I was trying hard to become a drunk – not an uncommon attempt in the newly-legal drinker. I came close to making it; but when I sobered up and realized what an asinine thing it was to do, I – just – stopped. Didn’t taper off, didn’t tell anyone. I just stopped. Today, I rarely drink at all, and have no more desire to drown my brain even in really good whiskey. Everything tastes better, too.
I smoked for 30 years. Then I started having heart attacks, so I stopped. No patches, no props, no vaping – which wasn’t a thing yet, thank goodness, because who really wants a mini-rocket blowing up in their mouth? – and I didn’t smoke again for 2 years. When Kage died, I realized I no longer cared especially, but it was no use: the taste for chain-smoking a pipe had left me. I now have an evening pipe maybe 3 times a week, but my once-prodigious habit is gone. Along with my adolescent fondness for stiletto heels and going braless …
So Kage was right, in that changing something without fanfare and with determination is the way to succeed. And she was also wrong, because sometimes a huge, final decision is the only way. I think what really matters is not how you do it, but whether or not you are stubborn enough not to stop the new course of action. Pick a new way and don’t quit it. That works.
The last 2 years, I have become more and more a recluse. The last 6 months, I have done less and less with each day. I’ve been really dreadfully ill most of that time, and now … well, I’ve has a bit of trouble working up enthusiasm about being in the world at all. But that’s just an abscess of despair, and it will be lanced this Friday. After that, I’ll have to live with whatever is going to happen, because whatever it is will happen, whether I’m ready or not.
Still, I think a dose of Kage’s way is pretty good idea. I ought to do something every day, and not just spend my waking hours reading news on the Interwebs until I bleed at the eyes. So, I’ve resumed writing. And knitting. And reading books. And running errands. Write a little, read a little, knit a little, go outside in the daylight a little – you know, real life.
Just because I’ve reached the time of life where I can get away with being a slightly crankier version of Dame Julian of Norwich, doesn’t mean I should do it. Sure, almost no one will care if I become a sessile life form and take up a career as a post-menopausal barnacle (than which, I cannot imagine a more useless form of life, by the way) – but it’s a bad idea. I get bored. Boredom sucks.
So I’ve decided not to be bored. It’s not a heroic goal, but I think I can manage that much, Dear Readers. I knitted a pink pussy hat for the Women’s’ March on Saturday, and I delivered it to a dear and athletic friend who is walking: because I can’t walk that much, yet. I’m making another, for me; and one for Kimberly. Mine will have earrings, and Kim’s will have Maine Coon Cat tassles. We will wear them everywhere, and at other marches.
I’m writing more. I went out on an errand today. I’ve gotten a “Resistor” shirt, and I’m wearing it around my part of town: it’s terribly cool. I joined the ACLU and put the sticker on my car. I’ve called an odious lot of Congress critters and annoyed their staff. I’ve eaten fruit every day since the beginning of the year – every day!
Small, achievable goals. And, yeah, I’m talking about it a little, but, hey – talking is one of the things I do, Dear Readers. Fish gotta bubble, birds gotta sing; I gotta talk. If I ever stop – well, it will be time to dig a hole and bury me.
But not just yet.