Self-Reflection and Time

The beautiful part of writing your own blog is that, while you can stay with one theme, sometimes its nice to get off the written path and…improvise a bit. Coming up with a blog this week (after I have somehow misplaced my blog plan for the year) saw me wobbling between some kind of self-promotion, poetry, or writing advice.

Well, I haven’t refined a poem that I’m ready to share yet, and I often get annoyed with too much self-promotion (my own mostly). I have lots of writing advice, but today I want to talk about time.

Time is a tricky sort of celestial magic. It is elusive and easy to lose, yet feels infinite and ongoing. The problem is that humans have such short spans of it to spend. And the more we spend, the faster what we have left goes. It is relative, and yet some moments can stop it. Days are long, but years are short. And the amount we are given is never guaranteed, nor is it ever enough.

So what do you plan to do with the time you have left?

I realize that working, sleeping, eating, caring for family and general ‘stay alive’ skills factor in. I’m talking about the minutes when you have a breadth of time to yourself.

Just before bed.

Right after you wake up.

That 15 minute break at work

the 20 minutes your baby is napping

The 2 minutes, sitting in your car before the kids get out.

The hours on your hands when your nest is empty.

The Saturday morning, the Wednesday afternoon, the Tuesday night…

You see, I just had another birthday, and every year when that date rolls around (especially since hitting 40) there is an urgent sense of morbidity.

What if this is the year?

That I get hit by someone watching their phone instead of the road while I’m out running. That my dog (or one, or all in a congregated attack of cats) trips me down the stairs. That I throw myself in front of my children, (or someone else’s) when a random gunman open fires at the grocery store. That I catch a benign case of the flu and run myself into walking pneumonia, and stop breathing in the night.

That the shadow on my pancreas has become a full-fledged tumor.

What if this is the last year I have left?

What do I want leave behind? I’m not trying to be a downer, or anticipate death. But time…

Time doesn’t slow for any of us. And time can stop us, dead, with the slightest universal plot twist.

What if this is the last year you have left? What if it’s the last month?

We don’t have time to wait. There is never a perfect time to do what you’ve always wanted to do. We have a limited time offer to live.

I have moments to enjoy with my children. I have a lot more naps in the sun with my dog. I have mountains to climb, smiles to spread, joy to foster, power to reclaim, and hurtful patterns to break. I don’t want to waste another minute on people who do not see my worth. I don’t want to waste a second on making the same mistakes that robbed me of time, or dignity, or love. I have so many more books to write. I have so many more poems to scribble down. More students to teach. More coffee to drink. More places to travel. More steps, more breaths, more life. And I want to pack as much of it all in, to every moment I have available.

Make a list. Today. This very minute. Pretend that it is all you have left to hope for and not much time to make it a reality. And start today. This very minute.

Time is not on our side. It is a ever-quickening beast, thundering beside us, and gaining ground. Your job, tiny chess-piece of the infinite universe, is to learn to move, and love, and live, every single moment you are here. So that when that monitor blip begins to slow, and the metronome of your heart ticks to ever-expanding spaces of silence… you know that you spent every beat of it well.

The Brink…

The eve of the New Year feels different this year.

We’re standing on the precipice of a deranged, hurtful, hateful, fearful time of existence, wishing that the turn of the calendar will somehow magically allow us all to step into a new world, free of the worries and trials nipping at our heels. The hope that a new vaccine, a new administration, a new awareness, a new number on the end of the date will lead to a year that won’t be a complete and total shit show is riding on our shoulders and settling into our veins, like a bandage to a too-deep wound.

Picture a six inch gash that needs hundreds of stitches, antibiotics, and physical therapy. We’re talking muscle deep. And the change from the 31st to the 1st is the Curious George band aid you got from the elementary school nurse.

I’m not saying this to be a Debbie Downer.

I’m saying this to be cautious (Cautious Kate?) that a socially constructed but otherwise meaningless mark of ‘time’ doesn’t determine a great paradigm and brink-of-destruction shift.

I’m saying this to tell you—if you need that date to start a different way of doing things, then Hu-fucking-zzah to you and get on it, Girl (or Bro?) but don’t think that the minute shift to a new year is going to change the world itself.

That calendar flip won’t do anything until we change.

Until we start giving a damn about other human beings.

Until we start understanding if our environment dies, so do we.

Until we start to understand that science seeks truth and power corrupts.

Until we stand on our own, think for ourselves, and treat everything we touch (physically, mentally and emotionally) with the same care, empathy, and love as we would our own child (or cat if you’re a fur momma) our world will never improve.

I’ve thought often of ending this blog in the past year. Sometimes it feels like it’s all for nothing. One voice shouting into a vast expanse of darkness. One voice raised against so many overpowering facets of corruption. One voice aching for connection.

But I know I’m not the only one. And as long as our collective lights continue to shine, there will never be complete darkness. So I will stand for another year. For another day. For as long as it takes until love overpowers hate, for as long as it takes for humans to wake up to the gift of their existence.

For as long as I draw breath, I’ll write. I’ll shine.

This next year will bring about more poetry as well as a new request for submissions from readers and poets for a second anthology from The Beautiful Stuff. There will probably be some ranting, some raving, and some venting. I can’t help that—and I’m not going to try or even apologize for it.

I’m also planning on running a ‘dime novel’ series that will include some weekly submissions of short stories (a la novella style) ranging from sci-fi/fantasy, to romance, to speculative fiction.

Stay in touch, and I’ll announce submission dates for not only guest blog pieces, poetry, and anthology submissions, but also for “dime novel” contributions.

Until then…keep shining.

If you must make New Year’s resolutions, don’t think about a smaller pair of pants, but how you can make your voice and your power bigger in this world. Don’t think so much about an organized closet, but an organized movement towards social justice.

Let’s aim our sights on living large of heart in this new year.