Karen Rivers

Think small.

Karen Rivers

The dog is sitting on the back of the white armchair, facing out the window.  He is always waiting for something to happen.  Please note that only an hour ago, he threw up under the couch and tried to bite me when I pulled him out by his tail.  

The things that might happen include the mailman or a change in the weather.   Neither of these things are particularly interesting, but he's interested.  While he sits there, his ears pricked forward, I imagine that his heart is beating just a little bit faster, thinking, "The mailman!  The mailman!  A GUST OF WIND!"  

I don't have the heart to tell him that it's Saturday and raining and nothing beyond that is going to happen.

I'm sitting on the couch.  I'm writing. I want to finish this thing today, tomorrow, next week, soon.   The idea of finishing is there, it's the bulk of the middling that's the trouble, which means sitting here and contemplating everything about why I'm doing this and for whom.  Panicking in small waves, when the paralysis of not knowing how to get to the end allows it.

The Christmas tree is looking increasingly like a large amount of work waiting to happen.   The kids are away.  When the kids aren't in it, the house seems filthier.  Somehow when they are home, the filth is disguised by their moods, craft projects and Astrosmash.  I should clean it but I'm writing, or doing the thing that goes hand-in-hand with writing, which is not writing.

I should take down the Christmas tree.  

I haven't written on this blog since October. Nothing has happened.  

That's a lie:  Plenty has happened.   Enough has happened that I haven't been getting the work done in a way that is joyful.  I prefer it when it's joyful, obviously.  The joy is in the doing.   It's the not doing, but worrying about doing, that's the trouble.  Because other things are happening that are hard, it filters over into the writing and makes it harder to form the words you need your fingers to type.  

Picture yourself having to carry something heavy up a mountain in the wind and snow and rain.  And that something heavy is a Volkswagen beetle which is rusty.  And every time you take a step, another part falls off that you have to pick up and somehow re-attach enough such that when you get to the top you have a complete car that someone may admire and even want to buy.  (You must be the optimistic sort who assumes that if you just GET it there, everything will be OK.)  The point is to get a car to the top of the mountain, let's say.  

Imagine that as you're walking, you're thinking, "Why on earth am I carrying a VW to the top of this mountain in these conditions?  This is ridiculous! And possibly unfair! Everyone else is having fun, in big smiling huddles that they will photograph for social media!  Why am I climbing a mountain with this terrible rusty car?"  But somehow, for some reason, you keep walking anyway even though you're getting cuts all over the place from the jagged metal bits and possibly need a tetanus shot.  (Well, the reason is because it's your job but it's also your passion.  Every time you get to the top and put down the heap of car-like material you run right back down again and begin carrying another car.  Maybe it's a sickness.  Who can say.)  

It takes a lot longer than you think, every single time, to get a CAR to a MOUNTAINTOP.  Well, duh.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.   You do it because you're mad, as the English would say, or at least people who read a lot of British fiction.  

The journey may or may not be worth it at the end.  EVERY journey is not worth it.  That's one of those things like, "You can be anything you want to be!" that people like to believe but is wholly untrue.  (I, for example, will never be a ballerina or an astronaut.)

It's possible, when you get to the top, that the whole stupid wreck will crumble to dust and the freezing, harsh wind will blow it away and you'll be left standing there, blinking, probably having a heart attack or dying from exhaustion and dehydration.  (Drink more water, for goodness sake.)   At the top of the mountain, a whole crowd of authors with brand new BMWs and Land Rovers will be casually chatting and hugging each other.  You don't even recognize some of the cars, they are so expensive and beautiful.  They roar off, one by one, bestsellers, prize winners, lauded, celebrated.   The authors huddle, smiling, for a gorgeous photo.   Tra la la.  They won't even look sweaty or dishevelled because they know what they're doing and you don't.   Wipe the rust dust off your hands and act natural.   Or rub it on your face and blend in with the background trees and dirt.   One of those things.

Either way, take a long slow breath and allow yourself to feel euphoric.  You made it to the top of the mountain!  And that's sometimes enough.   There are beautiful patterns in the sky made by the clouds.  Everything smells good, except probably you, but that's another thing altogether.  Try to just appreciate that cluster of wildflowers and they way people are congratulating each other and hugging.   Hug someone.  Pretend you don't notice when they brush your rust dust off their clean clothing.  

Up close, even rust is beautiful.  Look closely.  

By the way, the website is getting a huge makeover in January.  I will update it with all the VWs that I dragged to the top, all year, one after the other.  (It's amazing that after a good editing, a buff and polish, coat of paint, complete engine rebuild in some cases, their rusty beginnings may be less noticeable.)

(I don't know.)  

(I don't even know why this is about cars.  It's just what happened when I started typing.  I started thinking about cars and mountains.)

The new website will be pretty but the content will be largely the same, except with more books added.  If your website is your face on the internet, do you ever get tired of looking at it?   DO you look at it?   I go whole days without looking in the mirror.  It's easier to do than you might think.   I go months without looking at the website.   It's similar.  But, of course, it's different.  

I like how humans assume that when the calendar year flips over, there is an opportunity for 365 days of joy JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  Who knew we were such optimists!   Each previous 365 day chunk has proven otherwise, but we still keep hoping.  Isn't that the most beautiful thing?

Here's to a good chunk:  shiny,  new, light, and easy to carry.  If you're lucky, you won't even have to carry it!  You could drive it.   Why would anyone carry a car?   Just get behind the wheel and steer it up the rocky cliffs, watching carefully for wildlife.  After all, they were here first.  They're at home.   You're just visiting, for now, forever, for a while anyway.   Don't run them over.  That's bad karma.

I wish you all the happiest of years, the best of books, the warmest love, the lightest loads to carry, and much beauty and serenity.   

Serenity Now!  Let that be our motto.   Or Live Long and Prosper.  Your choice.    And good luck with those Volkswagens.