One of several reasons I’ve been struggling with the fantasy-in-progress is that I had created a nearly impossible problem for my characters, a corner they couldn’t get out of, a dead end that blocked their forward movement. It was going to take extreme ingenuity to give them an escape hatch so they could get to the remaining three-quarters of the story. Lots and lots of ingenuity.
You know what? In fiction, the easiest way past an immovable object is to declare “What obstacle? I don’t see no obstacle here! What wall? There never was any such wall…the real problem is over there, and if you just use your head or your muscles or your friends or all three, you’ll solve it in no time. And land in worse problems, but that’s not my fault. Well, really it is my fault – I built the trap you’re heading toward. But you’re supposed to cope with all sorts of problems. That’s what you’re for.”
(No, I’m not announcing that the characters solved their problem effortlessly because they’re Just That Awesome. I need to toss parts of the story as written so far, remove the insoluble problem, and set up a different problem. The nearly insoluble problem for me – as opposed to my characters – was realizing that I needed to take a different path instead of continuing to bang my head against the rocks.)
If I finish the fantasy-in-progress, if I publish the f-i-p, if you read the f-i-p, you’ll never even know when or where or what the impossible problem was. I unwrote it. My kind of deconstructionism.
Some doors don't seem to lead anywhere
Sometimes, it’s not clear that there are any good possibilities. There are directions you can move…but none of them take you any place you would choose to go to.
If you have parents who have become older than anyone, including them, ever expected – not in years, but in abilities – you know just what I’m talking about. Things can’t go on in the comfortable way everybody is used to, and all the new options are unpleasant and unsatisfactory. But you have to choose something. Things can’t go on in the way everybody is used to.
Doors are closing. Paths are blocked. Walls are crumbling. You’re frightened and frustrated, and your parents are frightened and frustrated too, only worse. All anybody has left to lean on is love, and you wonder if even love is strong enough to see all of you through this dark, barren valley.
No way through
(I took these photos in 2005 in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Back in the days when my mother was coping just fine on her own.)
My mother’s back in the hospital, after only two weeks at home. I’ll be at her home for an indefinite period, with no internet access. No blog.
So here’s the fridge.
I didn’t realize we had so many different jars of jelly. Better use some of them.
The strange brownish blob next to the red peppers is a bag of bread dough. If the picture were bigger, you could see that it’s kind of foamy. Yeast’s gotta do what yeast’s gotta do.
Cheese lives on the door shelves – that’s a ball of smoked mozzarella across from the milk.
So today’s suggested topic is “What’s more important, electricity or the internet?”
Ay yi yi.
The only hard part about answering this question is thinking up good analogies. For example, “What’s more important, the wheel or the car?” or “What’s more important, learning to read or getting an A in freshman English class?”
If you can’t have thing #2 unless you already have thing #1, Then Thing Number One Is More Important.
Yes, the Internet is new enough that most adults remember when we didn’t have it, so we know how much things have changed. (In 1995, newspapers were secure and popular. In 1995, if you wanted to look up information about something, you went to the library and used an encyclopedia. In 1995, if none of the stores in your area sold a particular item, you did without…and you probably didn’t know there was any such thing, anyway.)
But try just a tiny thought experiment. Have you ever gone tent camping? Carrying ice with you to keep food from spoiling, cooking over a campfire, relying on a propane lamp for light after dark? Okay. This is how everybody lived for thousands and thousands of years, except that the propane lamp is high-tech modern – you wouldn’t have had an equivalent in your house until the middle of the 1800’s. Or what about air conditioning – you know, that stuff that makes your electric bill so much bigger in the summer? Without electricity, you sweat. Without electricity – well, it’s easy to explain how basic and important electricity is to life as we know it.
Without electricity, no Internet.
I am grieving for my mother.
No, she hasn’t died. But she’s dealing with a significant constriction in the things she’s able to do without help, and it upsets her terribly. And understandably. (I suppose you could say she’s grieving for herself.) Unfortunately, one way she deals with the pain is by scolding herself and feeling ashamed of her loss.
I spend a good bit of time trying to soothe her, or at least distract her from being angry at herself. Anything to help her suffer less. And afterwards I feel consumed by guilt, scolding myself for not making her life All Better and feeling ashamed of myself as an inadequate daughter.
Have I learned my lessons on how to deal with problems or what?
Project for the rest of 2011: train myself to do what I can to fix things, and when I’ve done everything in my power, find some excuse to be happy. I don’t, I really don’t, want to be in my eighties and spend my time making myself and everyone within reach miserable. And, God help me, who knows if I’ll be able to avoid doing just that once I’m old and sick.
I am grieving.
You might think the quote above sums up one of the main political positions that the Bible endorses – a good society, a nation that God loves, will see to it that justice is freely available to everyone, not just the rich and powerful. And then there’s the other great political theme of the Bible – “inasmuch as you have done it to the least of My brethren” (fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and prisoners) “you have done it to Me.” God makes no secret of His special concern for the poor and desire that the rest of us help those with few resources.
This past Sunday, a group called the “Alliance Defense Fund” urged pastors to give sermons on political issues, telling their congregations to vote against any candidate who takes unbiblical positions. Does that mean they will endorse politicians who call for helping the poor?
Um, no. Not as far as I can tell from their web site. Their big concern seems to be with sex. Now God knows (and so do we) that sex can involve unloving, harmful behavior, and so we need to be careful with it. But humans can lust after money and power as well as sexual pleasure, and the Bible seems to suggest that money and power are more likely to cause harm. At the least, it spends a lot more space warning people not to misuse them.
It’s a shame that the Alliance Defense Fund’s Bible has apparently removed all the passages about caring for those who need help.