Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Don't Worry, Write On


There is plenty to worry about. The fiscal crises and the damn Republicans. Mass shootings and nut-jobs with automatic weapons. Terrorists and the wars in the Middle East. The popularity of Honey Boo-Boo and Nancy Grace. Climate change. And so on. I could dwell on that. And just making the list has me thinking about how things are going to hell around here, especially because of Nancy Grace. Still, I'm not going to head down that road into darkness.

I mean, think about it for a second. I don't have much of an impact on the fiscal crises, I didn't vote for any of the Republicans, I'm not about to stop a mass shooting tonight, I won't be able to track any terrorists or solve the problems of the Palestinians and the Jews. I don't subscribe to cable and so only know about idiotic characters second hand. I don't have a lot I can do about climate change while I'm in bed tonight, but I did turn the thermostat down and all our light bulbs are compact fluorescent, so I have that much covered.

The point is that worrying about all that stuff isn't going to do much of any good. I might feel holier than thou because I'm worrying over it, but I'm not any more effective than thou so I might as well cut it out.

And so I have.

Tonight I went out for drinks with my best friend. We sat in a bar with a roaring fire. He ordered beer, I had bourbon on the rocks. We laughed about things, discussed our families and our marriages, talked all about friends and pets, covered the NFL post-season, and then kept going.

We haven't always been able to relax about things. The two of us have had our fair share of tension and worry, but tonight we seemed to know what we can and can't control and all of it seemed okay enough.

That and I got a hot fudge sundae out of the deal, so what could be bad about that.

I came up with a few rules from the evening that seem worth sharing (though keep in mind that I've had two bourbons and what might seem brilliant to me now will likely seem merely obvious come morning).

One, there is no way to control anyone other than ourselves. That said, it is not okay to let people do whatever they like if it gets in the way of my happiness. The rule is that it's not okay to be a victim. Expecting to change others is one way to be a victim. Accepting that people are just going to be horrible and there is nothing I can do to protect myself and improve my situation is another. Neither way is alright.

Two, women should always wear knee high boots with medium to high heels. They just look great. We both agreed on this and it is a firm rule. We are fairly certain, though neither of us are religious, that this was on a tablet that Moses neglected to bring down the mountain. Damn it all.

Three, someone is almost always going to be better at what we do than we are, but that's no reason to stop. He brought it up with his photography and I have the same thing going on with my writing. Sure, I can type out 750 words each day, but there are people whose writing makes me cringe it's so damn good. (For example, read the first paragraph of Junot Diaz's latest book. It will make you weak. Just ridiculous how good the guy is.) Still, it's worth it to come up with another 750 words, even if fifty of them are about how women look great in boots.

Four, there is very little that we can't accomplish if we so choose. This came up when we talked about running. I haven't run in four weeks or so but I know that if my doctor said it was okay, I could run ten miles tomorrow. It's not that I'm superman so much as that we are all supermen (and women). For forty-four years I have believed that I couldn't write a novel and then, this past November, I did. So there.

There were other rules. They had to do with the past and the future, they had to do with being present, but no one ever learned much from a list and four items is all I'm willing to share tonight. Besides, there is always tomorrow to go into more detail and you know for sure that tomorrow I'll be following the rule above most every other rule for me, the one that says write on.