Big Bad World; Little Lifelines

March 12, 2011

I haven’t written for a few days. I’ve been, not writing, but editing. I find editing an enormous, but invigorating challenge. This round was an attempt to lop out lectures. It ended with about 7k more words to the story. Useful words – continuity and character development, but still, 7k more words that need to be pruned.

I’m still feeling totally immersed in writing. For some reason 2 new stories appeared in my head these last few days, and several ideas for stories in progress. I woke at 2:30am with the tail end of a dream merging into semi-conscious continuation for an entire story. Between waking and dozing, I worked on it until about 4:30. Love writing in the dark. (People talk about not sharing beds / bedrooms due to snoring, restless sleeping, blanket hogging. I’ve endured all three, but what might finally move me to a separate bedroom is that I need to turn on the light in the night.)

Anyways – I’m rambling. I’m on overload with news. Japan, tsunamis. The internet is full of stories and videos. Even my sister in San Fransisco had pictures of the wave coming through the bay. I won’t post links: look for yourselves if you haven’t already. Caring about one another is part of what makes us human.

I’ve never felt an earthquake. I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel, especially one of that magnitude, and most especially knowing that the shaking was only a precursor to other terrors. Articles on how ill-prepared most people are for a disaster. I live in Oregon. We, too, are at risk for such a mega-quake. Do I store water or food? No. I think I’d best figure out how to get that mindset.

So, with all the thoughts spiraling and tangling in my head, I was going to write about the little things that make me smile, even when things are overwhelming. I saw both a rufous towhee and a varied thrush at the feeder this morning. The daffodils are fully out, and the plum trees a haze of deepening pink. Two of the cats were perfect bookends on the back of a chair. Little things, little smiles, but they lighten the heart. To repeat a Jane Austen quote I love: “It’s as well to have as many holds on happiness as possible”. Little smiles don’t solve big problems, but they may open a crack to let a lifeline in. Maybe not. But worth hoping for.

Then I read the morning news, the comics, the blogs. And I found  / this /.  I, like many of the commentators, was outraged. And what is most outrageous is that I was unsurprised. Women are so blatantly treated as ‘special cases’ and not as equals. Why assume that a non-European surname implies lack of language proficiency? Some of the worst profs I had were theoretically language proficient, but very deficient in teaching skill.

Hey, you ignorant bigoted jerks. Wake up and see reality. Are you that frightened of your own infallibility that you have to stomp others down to keep yourself up?

I love Bertrand Russell. I may not always agree with him, but he sees things clearly:

“Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.”

“Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.”

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”

“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.”

I need to go watch the birds and admire the daffodils again. Actually, all this may require petting a sleeping cat to soothe me back to functionality.


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