Always moving forward, never going back
This has been a fast-moving month. Looking over my shoulder, it’s been accelerating for years, now, whether I want to or not. This week I released my latest work, a time-travel novella. I found out my youngest child is moving out as he’s landed a great job just as he finishes up his welding classes. We got good news and bad on the husband health front. Time is travelling relentlessly onward, and I’m on this ride whether I want to be or not. There’s no way to get off and take a break.
Best I can do is stop in the kitchen for a moment and hug my son, as we pile foodstuffs on the island for him to pack up. He may not eat stuff he likes, but he won’t starve, and I’ve got seasonings and spices to make rice and beans palatable until he’s got paychecks coming in and recovers from the expense of renting his first solo living quarters, whatever that looks like.
I can stop and kiss the top of my husband’s head as I walk through the office where he’s playing a video game, his eyes sleepy and vague, because evenings are not kind to him and he’s doing the only thing his heart has the strength for. I may be moving fast, but slowing down to linger a moment with him means I have precious memories to hoard towards the future.
I can write like a madwoman for eight days, and at the end of it all have a novella about time travel (or, is it?) relationships, and what we will do to keep our loved ones safe. I may not put real life in my fiction on purpose, but somehow, it creeps in there. I’ll never be a superheroic character like Pol, but I have paid the price for making assumptions about keeping my family safe. Running Into Time wasn’t plotted - I am a pure pantser - and it stalled at one point, which had me frantically trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, before I realized that in focusing on Garry and Oly I was only telling half the story. Once I wrote the second plot, interweaving the two, the thing poured out of me and onto the pages until I finished it up with a bittersweet moment.
Life goes on. We go with it. I have choices to make along the way, that have the potential to send me down the wrong leg of the pants of time (to crib from the late great Sir Pterry). I could choose to dwell in the future, with my fears and anxiety over the inevitable outcomes of past decisions. That would be a painful place to be, certain that nothing would be all right, in the end. Or, I could choose to make stops, smell the roses, be present in the moments of joy and celebration of successes. I can be here, now, neither in the past where I have failed, nor in the present where I may have failed, but in the current of time.
I shall be happy. I am happy. I have been happy. No, this isn’t one of those exercises where saying it makes you think it is so, because I don’t have to trick myself. I am happy, simply that. Some days it’s a small happy moment, a brand new baby cousin with a rosebud face, or a friend’s new kittens playing. Other days it’s the incandescent joy of my husband’s embrace, of my son becoming the adult I knew he could be. Or it’s the mundane happiness of stepping outside and turning my face up to the warmth of the sunshine in autumn, filling my lungs with the scent of falling leaves, their peculiar fragrance a delight to my senses. The happiness of knowing that someone, somewhere, can read my story and be transported for a time outside of their own pain and routines, to a place where they can enjoy themselves and have a chuckle at the funny bits in the story, alongside the more serious. Life needs levity, a leavening of the weight of the world that goes with us on every step of the way.
I may not have any control over the passage of time, and my thoughts on time travel if it were available are conflicted (would I go back and alter the course of my life to evade some of the pain in it? Probably not, as that would also mean my four amazing children would not exist), but I do have control over my thoughts as I travel forward, ever forward. I have a very good friend who catches me up when I stumble into the cycle of anticipating disaster, attracting chaos, and dwelling on ‘what should have been’ rather than pleasure in ‘what is, now, here’ and she points out that I need to straighten up and fly right. Friendship like that is worth it all, and I value her above rubies for it.
I can’t go backwards in time, and I wouldn’t. Life is not static. The unexpected gifts of love, of joyful moments, of the hope that lights my way, those are earned from years of stumbling through the pain and quagmires of despair. I was never helpless, I was never hopeless, even if I thought so at times. I’m here, aren’t I? I’m here. Right now. In the present.