My submission for the competition for WDC, Dear Me
What…the hell was the year twenty-twenty all about? There was a surprising amount of negativity in the news, too much division within our homes, and it felt like Death was sitting in that chair way too close for comfort, watching with an eerie stance as we all awaited a first move, if it was to come at all. But within these experiences, there was so much good seemingly gone unappreciated. Every one of us has a small satchel tied around our necks, a little bag of lessons learned should we choose to pull open the drawstrings and reach into it. I turned forty at the end of the year, and for the first time ever, I seem to harbor no hatred for the year that deserved it more than any other. It’s interesting how I don’t feel down; instead, there seems to be little more than pity for the year that reared up with fury we’ve never before witnessed. From that pity came an understanding, however, an inspiration that the year 2021 will be nothing short of productive beyond what I could ever have hoped for.
I’ve learned that if I go on vacation this year, I’ll appreciate not being awakened on a beach in between the warm sea air and the cold sand. Did I like how it felt to snap into consciousness by someone shaking me, waking me up to a scenery of unexplored forest? It was daunting, an overwhelming understanding that a fresh new world had been set before those of us who had been on The Emerald Empress, finding ourselves no longer aboard the cruise ship. It’s easy to remember the times I doubted I would be alive longer enough for the cruise ship to come back for us. The boat was all I had to look forward to, a spring of hope that would never allow me to consider an alternative.
I learned while we formed groups on the beach how simple it is for one person to rise up quickly and assume power. It may feel as if the appropriate behavior in a situation where a despot crowns himself to begin his reign would be to remain protected by silence, but it became apparent much too quickly that the good reverend from the city of Goinsville in the great state of Kansas couldn’t possibly possess the ability to keep his ego in line with his ambitions and ethics. Maybe had I spoken up when they were mean to that one woman, Cathy, I could’ve made a difference, but the reality of the situation was that the reverend had already gained too much momentum from the support of those who believed in his causes, even if he himself didn’t realize what those principles were in that moment on the beach.
Then we split up into smaller groups and went in search of civilization or any signs thereof. I realized I didn’t know as much as I had assumed about certain animals, those who moved through the green leaves of the thorny brush. I thought this species, this dinosaur walking on all fours with the thin and beautifully colored sail on its back had died out millions of years ago, but here it was now in front of us as the animal commanded a glory I’d never seen captured in the illustrations from the dinosaur books I’d read as a kid. Our group panicked and ran back to the beach, but the animals proved to want a nap, not nutrition as they milled to the sand. Of course, the other people stranded along with us who had stayed on the beach to create a shelter ran in terror, heading back into the coverage of the forest to escape as the animals flopped down on the sand, warming themselves in the growing heat of the rising sun. What else could I do but follow the herd of horrified humans? There was no way I could survive without the others.
I found the group a few hours later, and as I found my place among them, we realized were surrounded by an army, a group of men who seemed to be primitive upon first inspection. Their swords, spears, and bows and arrows would prove to be a testament to the determination to bring us back to the nearest city they called “Dormium”, a city within the mountains a day’s walk west from the beach. At the beginning of our apparent citizenry, they billed us as slaves, property of what they called “the primus momenti”, from their version of Latin meaning “he of the most importance”: their king.
It was apparent this place wasn’t Venezuela or Guyana. No, this was a whole new world, a different realm foreign to the ideas of everyone who had been upon The Emerald Empress just the night before. From what information we reaped, we soon discovered this was a world not quite unlike Earth. The people of Dormium told us they were a city in the nation of Ingressia, and there was certainly history associated with this nestled city.
The story, of course, goes on from here, beginning with my social progression forward until I was exiled from this land I was just starting to contemplate as maybe home. It was lucky I came upon those I did, those people further away from Dormium who had been described as “backwoods” and “stupid”. As it turned out, they were neither backwoods nor stupid as they reached their conclusion of a desire for revolution, to garner their independence from Ingressia. And it wasn’t long before it became my fight, also. Even though I looked different, although I wasn’t from around there, they welcomed me into their world and taught me what they knew of life and magic and surviving as the best people they could be. I learned the pieces to all the puzzles are there inside me, scattered around and thrown together for me to search through and make sense of. There are guides everywhere in the world, of course; there are people who can relight the fire of passion cooling in our heart, but the self-sufficiency is present upon which to be depended.
What did I learn? Well, I don’t want to experience any of this again. Sure, there were rewards on the path to my destination, but to live through every bit of it again the same way from beginning to end simply isn’t desirable. And I realized there’s an indescribable power within every one of us, infused by the energies of life and pushed by necessity to evolve into something much bigger, much better.
And, for the honor of having been ordained by the gods and muse to write the above story, the reward for writing a first novel, I discovered how much I loved writing stories about purpose with some dinosaurs thrown in. I learned there is a magic, a power and a live energy that feels so close to tangible when I’m wielding the magic, the result of permission granted by imagination and an awareness of the symbiotic relationship with the muse. I learned in order to find confidence to predicate what I’ve been learning, to step out and grow into the better person I know is in there.
It was truly scary how much of my deeper being and truths came out unexpectedly in the book. Now that the first draft is in the resting period, as I reflect on the story and the details still traceable even as they slowly fade, it becomes easier to see how much of me bubbled to the surface, how much of what I really fear sits on the very top of the strange potion that created the story. I don’t know if it’s normal for a writer to communicate with a deeper part of himself or herself, but isn’t that what this felt like? Didn’t I, by writing through this day by day, experience the real situations of my own life in a way that seemed a little more imaginative and fun, a little…easier to face? I found the strength within myself to do this thing I want to do, to write and to achieve the innate sense of purpose by serving the gods of art while finding a sense of home in my own skin as a writer. I discovered my own validation, an understanding that, for some reason, who I am is enough to achieve my dreams. I am enough! Doesn’t that feel more gratifying than anything I could have dreamed? Isn’t that the point of art? To find ourselves and then each other?
So good job. Sure, I was a dick at times through the year, insufferable and inconsequential, but I’ve found out that even though I am enough, I want to be more, to be better. I got a damn good start goin’ here, and that was more than I could have asked for. My only directive regarding a resolution is to continue discovering and to prepare myself for everything I know is waiting just beyond the horizon. Life is just starting.
Even at forty. 😉