Song, in her petite elven form, wearing a dark green tunic over grey leggings, strolled along the wooded glen, soft brown soil cushioning each step while pink blossoms waved in a gentle breeze. She stopped and breathed in the deliciously sweet scent of spring.
Butterflies sailed by as birds twittered from the branches: bluebirds, redhearts, and goldenhues. Even a pair of orangefires insisted on wishing her a good morning.
She smiled and bowed in the accustomed greeting between Bhuac and natures’ citizens.
A fierce greenhawk swooped in and, with its large bulky body, bristled, sending the gentler folk into a frightened frenzy. The joy-filled chirping turned to cawing and sharp screams of distress.
Her heart twisting, Song watched, helpless to alter the scene for though she ruled the planet, her influence in the wild only reached so far.
Pounding steps along the wooded path, turned her attention. A figure jogged forward, long black hair flowing over thin shoulders, clear eyes narrowed in concentration. A strong woman suffering from unaccustomed weakness.
Slapping her hand against her chest, the woman came to a skidding halt before Song, heaving deep to catch her breath. “They’re going back!”
Her heart clenched; Song froze. As if understanding the gravity of the moment, the feathered feud ceased, and silence descended. Only the sun continued to shine unabated. With a start, Song realized that she could not sense a thing. Even the ground under her feet had fallen away.
“Did you hear me?” The woman drew closer, her hand reaching, whether to awaken her mentor or grasp at needed strength, neither could guess.
Song nodded. “I heard.” She forced a calm smile. “It is good to see you again, Kelesta. Where is your husband and daughter?”
A darted glance at the sky and a facial spasm spoke louder than words. “They’ve gone too.” Her gaze fell. “Ark passed on and his son, Tarragon is taking his place.” She straightened her shoulders. “Teal is sick, and Sterling is…preoccupied. A Luxonian named Mauve has stolen his heart.” She sucked in a deep breath, readying herself for painful truth-telling. “Zuri wants to teach Nova about humanity’s true nature. Perhaps make room in her soul for—” Kelesta flapped her arms like a bird perched on the edge of flight. “Something.” She shrugged. “She certainly isn’t interested in me.”
Caught in a snare that had held her for much too long, Song wrapped her arm around the young Bauchi woman. “She loves you—she just doesn’t know it yet.”
With a muffled sob against the older woman’s shoulder, Kelesta gave way to tears. “She can’t love someone she doesn’t know. She refuses to even consider what Zuri and I offer.”
The sun, still on its ascent, shone bright from the clear golden sky. “Let’s return and have a morning cup with biscuits and honey-jam. You’ve come home just in time to help me face the coming storm. Humanity measures time in such small increments; they do not see the landscape of their days. They are about to undergo a momentous change, and they have no idea of the long-range repercussions.”
“But what about Zuri and Nova—and all the rest?”
Song took Kelesta’s hand and started down the path, her feet padding on the soft, springing soil. “They must learn too. It is what all the living must do or else die in stagnation.”
Kelesta brushed a low hanging branch out of her way, pink blossoms falling on the path, as she kept in step with Song. “But what if she learns the wrong lesson and refuses her father and me? What if we lose our daughter?”
Tears aching behind her eyes, Song looked to the trees and silently beckoned to the birds. Give me strength. “It is the highest praise of our creator to give us freedom.” She squeezed her friend’s hand as the birds burst into fresh song. “It is our trial to endure whatever they choose.”
The most profitable aspect of writing has little to do with money. When I began my writing journey, I believed I might make enough profit to buy…to repair…to solve… To fill in some blank in my life. Yet, during the ten years I’ve been writing and publishing novels, non-fiction inspirational reflections, poems, and short stories, I’ve discovered the real blanks that writing filled. Very little cash involved.
The first blank would have to be Humility. Gosh, but it was a shock to discover that my initial efforts weren’t as good as I thought. That my skills weren’t up to par. That while some readers forgave my bumbling efforts and wrote nice reviews, others tossed hand grenade truths that nearly shattered my calm disposition. I had to accept a whole new level of humility or throw away my pen.
Learning New Skills hustled for second position, ramming against every wish list I ever made. I just wanted to WRITE. Not being a total fool, I planned to leave editing, proofreading, design, and publishing to the experts.
Well, that sounded good in theory.
Unfortunately, the logic of my newfound humility meant that I didn’t have the cash flow to ensure my deepest desires. In order to get out of the humility hole, I had to learn a lot about editing—which is a far cry from proofreading, let me tell you, Buddy! Apparently, it matters if my reader gets so bewildered in the storyline that they don’t know what year it is or what planet they’re on. And that irritating English Grammar thing. I’ve had to tackle spelling like the monster it is and get a good hold. And figure out what’s going on with “ing” words.
Grammarly should be up for Literary Guardian Angel of the Year Award. Just saying…
I also had to wrangle design elements and learn the tricks and tribulations of publishing online. I did pay experts. Those poor souls not only helped me to shape better books, but they taught me much-needed skills so I can now fly solo—on occasion.
My third blank waylaid me in a dark alley and turned out to be a great friend. Once I stopped screaming at it.
Being my own editor, designer, and publisher offered me the freedom to see my work in a whole new light. Bearing responsibility and taking the consequences for my actions brought illumination to the dark corners of the writing/publishing universe.
It wasn’t merely the fact that I didn’t have a publisher breathing down my neck telling me how to get the job done or pointing to a set of guidelines, but I gained the reality of “ownership.” Did I make mistakes? Like a fish in water. Tons and kabillions of them. It’s incredibly fun to play with metaphors and spell things wrong on purpose. A snide revenge thing? Maybe. But I also paid the price for my mistakes—thus I dropped all interest in making the same mistake twice.
Part of human genius is our ability to move the camera into the corners. To switch off the lights and read by the light of the moon. To get down to hamster level and discover what’s been hiding under the refrigerator for the last three months.
I can do things differently. Not only can I, but I’d better. I develop as I grow. The world alters. Convolutions and revolutions transform me as they transform cultures and Wal-Mart isles. So the ability to not only learn humility and new skills but to hone my freedom in the service of a greater good—to tell an honest story or reflect on my latest homeschool mishap—means that I have filled in a lot of blanks.
The biggest blank is where my life would’ve been without writing. Not enough money in the world to fill that blank.
I have noticed a definite trend as I move through the homeschool week.
On Monday morning, I am speaking in active sentences packed with spelling words, circulating around the room, radiating energy and enthusiasm as I multi-task to my heart’s content.
On Tuesday, I am still circulating, albeit a little slower, my sentences are a bit shorter, more to the point, there’s a tad less spark to my demeanor.
On Wednesday, I’m still moving but rather jerkily; my sentences no longer bear any resemblance to the week’s lessons, as a matter of fact, I am struggling to remember what language I speak.
By Thursday, I’m sitting in my chair as I ply through the texts, gesturing for the kids to come to me and explain what’s happening in history, writing, science, math, and whatever else I dare to teach.
By Friday, a grunt, a gesture, a sticker, and we’re good to go.
Well, it’s not quite that bad… But the trend from energetic to slow motion is real enough. So is the brain-drain. I suspect that as coffee drinkers hooked on the whole concept of fast and effective, we tend to give ourselves little space to be anything but perfectly attuned to the nuances of constant multi-tasking. Yet, is that real? Are we real? What happens by the end of the week is reflected in what is happening inside of us as we attempt to be what we are not.
No one is perfect. No one can be “up” all the time. No one is beautiful every minute of the day. We get tired. We get exhausted. We get messy. To be honest, I think our whole nation is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We try so hard to be up and energetic, beautiful and cool. Yet, we have been tucking our problems out of the way: debt, family breakdown, cultural divisions, spiritual emptiness.
Next week, Ash Wednesday kicks off the start of Lent. Some might think that this is simply another task to put on the to-do list. But on the contrary, it is really a call to freedom. “Remember, Man, from dust you came to dust you shall return.” In our Lenten reflection, we actually become free to take a little “down time” to think about who we are and where we are going. We may not be effective and efficient for six weeks, but consider this as our “fast” for the duration. We can offer up our never-ending multi-tasking schedule and spend some time thinking about who we are and why we are alive. Life in Lent can be a soul-nurturing event.
Maybe by Easter, we’ll feel reborn. After all, that’s kinda the point…