I rarely respond to writing prompts, mainly because I know what I’m planning to write about without needing a poke in a new direction, but today I saw one that caught my eye. So here we are.
Here. (Not over there.)
If you had a chance to know what the future held, would you take it?
The world holds so many choices for asking people what the future holds. Tarot readings, palmistry, numerology, astrology, divination in general, psychic mediums. Whether or not they work is anyone’s guess. However, I can’t say I would want to know. Given the choice, I would take the surprises.
No matter what you believe happens in the afterlife or even if said afterlife exists, all we know for sure is that we’re here now. (Okay, some might want to debate that point, but I’m not trying to go more philosophical than I have to.) The last thing I want to spend this one, short life doing is worrying about what is going to come next. Seeing every bad or good thing lurking down the road, inevitable. I don’t like inevitability. I’ve resigned myself to the inevitability that I will die, but I don’t want to know when it’s going to happen.
My grandfather is about to pass away. He’s 83, and has already lived longer than any other man in our family. He survived a stroke and made almost a full recovery. He then got a kidney infection a couple months ago. They eradicated the infection, but now it’s back, and he’s made the choice that he wants to spend his remaining days at home, with no meds that make him sick, in the company of people who love him. He’s made his goodbyes. While none of that is easy, if I could imagine the best way to leave this earth, that’s how it would be. After living a long, full life, surrounded by family.
That’s why I don’t want to know what’s coming. Most people don’t get that kind of end. Many never get the chance to say goodbye, to come to terms with death. To look it in the eyes and take its hand willingly. I don’t want to spend my life worrying about what good will pass me by or what bad might strike. I want to work hard, live this life as well as I can, and push myself to achieve the dreams I have. I believe that if I do that, I will get where I need to be. If I tell everyone I love them now, share myself with loved ones, and treat others with dignity, I won’t leave unanswered questions when I go if it happens to be sudden.
So why wouldn’t I want to know the future? I like the present. The future will come. Time is inexorable. It moves whether you want it to or not. I can deal with whatever comes when it comes. Until then, I will love as well as possible and greet each dawn with hope and determination to keep moving forward.
I don’t have anything extraordinarily witty to say tonight, nor do I really have any particular direction in which to write. But my goal is to try to write a thousand words per day, and though I have been on facebook and the like, I don’t really think that counts. So here I am.
Today hasn’t been the best day. At best, I feel directionless…much like this blog. Or rather, I know where I want to go, but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get there. At worst, I feel jangled and emotional, and I want to cry. A lot. I feel guilty for being home for the past three and a half weeks with my injury. I’ve missed a lot of work, and I’m catching some flak for it. I understand why; I mean, three weeks is a lot. I also am feeling super weak and lame. In the traditional sense of the word. Lame as in debilitated. I can barely stand for an hour without severe pain. Driving is just as bad. I’ve been pretty much alone in my room for the past three weeks, which has made me lonely and helpless, and although I don’t really want to throw a pity party, I just want to feel like a human being again.
I don’t want to be a negative person. I know that negativity is far from attractive. So I think perhaps I will use this entry as a chance to force myself to try an exercise my mom has pointed me at several times in the past. So here it is — a list of the things I like about myself.
I’m compassionate. I’m able to put myself in other people’s shoes pretty easily and try to get inside their heads to try and understand where they are coming from. I’m also fairly empathic, and I tend to be very sensitive to others’ pain.
I am loyal. If I care about someone, I will stick with them. I’m also very tenacious and rarely give up on anything I’ve set my mind to. I’m patient. I’m creative — I like to make art. My kind of art just happens to be with words, and I try to do it as best as I can.
I’m a daydreamer and I have a good imagination. While it can get me into trouble on occasion, I like seeing the world through my own lens. I think if I were less shy, I would have been a good actress. I can read expressively and with emotion.
I’m good with languages, both my own and otherwise. I’ve always been able to pick up new languages easily, which is cool because I really enjoy them. On a purely superficial note, I like my eyes.
I’m only about halfway to a thousand words, and I have to apologize for the quality of this blog. I have a bad headache that came on sort of suddenly, and I am a bit out of it.
I really want to travel more. I am going to try and go back to Scotland this summer if I can find a cheapish fare. I’m hoping to fly out of Toronto so I can see Julia. I haven’t seen her for almost a year and a half, and I miss her terribly. It’s funny how you can meet someone so briefly and form such a lasting relationship — that’s been oddly true about the most important relationships in my life. I met Julia when we both lived at the Inverness Tourist Hostel, and we became best friends after only a few short weeks. That was in 2005, and nothing has changed. She is still one of the only non-blood related people I count among family.
I miss Scotland, as well. A strange peace comes over me when I’m there, ever since the first time my feet touched the rather unromantic tarmac at the Prestwick Airport an hour south of Glasgow. It’s a place I’ve returned to so many times (Scotland, not Prestwick) and just felt like I was home. I don’t think I have ever seen a parallel to the beauty that exists in Scotland. I remember driving through Stirling on Megabus and looking out the window as the sun slanted through the clouds and lit up the earth as though it had flipped a switch within. I remember the golden sheen of the mist on the hills, the Wallace Monument rising like…well, to be honest, rising like a giant, spiky phallus. Perhaps that just ruined the romance of the shot. Ha.
I remember Dollar Glen and Loch Ness and the way the ocean at John O’Groats is such a deep navy blue and contrasts with the shining white sand. The earthy scent of soil, dust, and rock that makes up the interior of the Maes Howe, the rough-hewn slats of standing stones. The smell of peat and the warm amber brown it turns the Ness River. The Sisters of Kintail and Glen Coe. The lone tree on Rannoch Moor near the cone-shaped Buachaille. I have a hundred thousand memories of Scotland, each one stored away like delicate treasures within my mind. I know I will return someday — it’s only a matter of time. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later. And I long to share it with my boyfriend.
If I can get there this summer, I know it will be a short visit, probably no more than a week or two at the most, but it will be a time of renewal as well. A time to refresh my memories, see some dear friends, and rest my weary soul.
In the film What Dreams May Come, they espouse the philosophy that we choose our own heaven, or at least that we create it from our minds. If that turns out to be at all true, I know where mine would be. It would be a land of drums, of silver-smooth lochs, of smoky scotch and the scents of the earth. There would be stone circles and sapphire seas laced with white sand beaches and forests with floors of soft moss where the rowans turn the circle of the seasons as their branches burst into bloom, the blooms turn to snowy berries that ripen into deep red before the leaves fall once more. An eternity there would be an eternity of bliss.
I don’t plan on dying any time soon, so for now, I’ll look forward to the time when I can jet my earthly body there.
Well, what do you know? Over 1,000 words.
I can’t help but smile. And I also can’t help that even 24 hours later, when I smile about this, a couple of tears spring to my eyes as well. Something happened to me yesterday that I had been waiting twenty years for. There really aren’t many of those things; I’ve only been alive for twenty-five. And yet this is one of the few, and indeed one of the least likely to have transpired. But it did.
This is a story of magic and love. One that, like the smile and the prickling tears, I can’t help but share.
Last night, I was driving home from my boyfriend’s band’s show with him in my little blue Civic. We chatted briefly about mundane things — plans for the next day which included a bro-down for him and a ladies brunch for me. About halfway home, he told me that he’d gotten me something. I thought, Huh. Good thing I got him something too. He informed me that it was something I had mentioned in the previous couple weeks and that he had resolved to get it for me.
I was intrigued; I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it could be. The only thing I remembered mentioning that I wanted was pie, and I rather doubted he had gotten me a pie.
He went on to tell me that he would surprise me with it. I might not get it tonight, but maybe in the morning. Or next week. Whenever the moment seemed right. And no, it wasn’t sex. This made me even more confused, and more firmly ruled out pie, since he already had it, and I don’t think he would give me a week old pie.
I was thoroughly curious by this point. I told him I had something for him, as well. But that it was a small thing I’d picked up at the Dollar Store, and no, my gift wasn’t sex either, nor anything remotely sexual. We came to the conclusion that anything sexual from the Dollar Store most likely was not to be trusted. Luckily, I’d just gotten him a basting brush. My boyfriend happens to make some damn fine bruschetta, and each time we shop for ingredients, he always pauses at the basting brushes and then never gets one because they’re about $8. So when I saw a red Betty Crocker silicone basting brush for a dollar, I had to get it.
An hour or so later, we were in bed. We had a long conversation about my previous blog about dating musicians, including the thoughts that I’d had about what that meant about priorities. He kissed me very gently on the forehead, and as always, I could not help but smile into his shoulder.
I rolled over and put one arm under my pillow. It encountered something there. It felt like plastic, cool to the touch. Like a tube of some kind. I exclaimed that there was something under my pillow, thinking it was just something that had gotten thrown there accidentally before we made the bed. I wondered aloud what it was, and he turned on the light so I could see.
Rewind twenty years.
A five-year-old girl humbly asks Santa for something extra special for Christmas. Beyond the Care Bears, her heart’s desire was set. This little girl was convinced that magic was out there, that it was real, and that one day, it would find her. So she did what anyone would do in that position: she asked the most magical person she could think of for something magical. A magic wand. With real magic.
Christmas came and went — the Care Bears arrived, but the wand did not. The small girl lifted her voice and with it, she made a deal. “Santa,” she said, “I know you’re very busy. You had to get to all the little kids in the world, and so I understand that you probably didn’t have time to bring it. But…I really do want it more than anything. I won’t try to see you — just leave it under my bed when you get the chance.”
She looked under her bed every morning for over a year. And even when she finally stopped, she knew magic still existed. Even when the time came two years later for her to stop believing in the Santa that rode in his sleigh delivering gifts and exchanged that image for the picture of a box from a stranger, wrapped in brown paper. A stranger who heard her letter on the news asking for Santa to fix the leak in the roof above her bed and paid for it himself, along with everything else that she had mentioned in her letter — every jewel Polly Pocket and the crown of all, the princess castle. In fact, she was even more sure magic existed. She knew that she would never be surprised when she found it.
When the light came on, I found myself holding a black stick, silver at both ends. My jaw fell open. “It’s a magic wand,” my boyfriend said. Dumbfounded, I stared at him. “And you already have the magic for it.”
“You got me my wand.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. In that moment, I was five years old again, looking under my bed, expecting a miracle. Tears fell. I had told him the story over brunch at our new favorite restaurant, sipping delicious strawberry lemonade and eating sandwiches made with waffles and sweet potato fries.
As I hold it now, I’m sure. I can feel it in my hands, in my blood, in the air. There is magic in this wand, real magic.
I always knew I’d find it.