Thursday, October 15, 2020

Living in the Moment

Kameron Hurley's newest LOCUS column further discusses the quandary of living in these fraught times.

Measuring Life in Keurig Cups

She describes the joy of creative projects other than writing, endeavors that engage the body and senses such as the backyard pond she and her spouse constructed. She reminds herself and us that we can choose to brood over what's happening in the country and the world outside of our control or focus on what we can control, how we spend our own time.

I especially like her quote from Paul Harvey: “During times like these, it helps to remember that there have always been times like these.” Hurley brings up the example of Monet painting within earshot of bombardment during World War I. I often remind myself that the country and the world have survived much worse and returned to whatever "normal" may have been at the time. Consider the plague-devastated village at the end of Connie Willis's DOOMSDAY BOOK or London during the blitz in her BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR. And yet here we are.

A message in Hurley's essay that particularly resonates with me is the theme of living in the moment. She puts it, “Am I physically all right, in this moment? Is everything okay here, in this moment?" This is a reminder I try to invoke for myself regularly, but I tend to think of it in negative terms: Is anything terrible or unbearable happening right now? The answer is usually "No." Of course, it may occasionally be "Yes," as with acute grief or terror or agonizing physical pain. More often than not, though, I suffer self-inflicted unhappiness by obsessing over bad things that may or may not happen in the future. Even impersonal forces such as political trends—sometimes I have to figuratively hit myself upside the head with the reminder that if the party I oppose wins the November election, the apocalypse won't descend upon us in the first week of November or even on Inauguration Day. To paraphrase a quote I came across somewhere recently, worrying doesn't make tomorrow any better; it makes today worse.

Since, unlike Hurley, I don't have a creative avocation other than writing, I make a conscious effort to take note of good things happening day by day—e.g., sunny weather, functioning cars, appliances, and utilities, reasonably okay health, Facebook videos of our youngest grandson (age two), the convenience of ordering books and other treats online, the restaurants that have reopened, etc. I've started posting some of these daily on Facebook under the label "Today's Good Things," most of which probably give the impression that my life is rather boring. That's okay; I prefer boring to chaotic. I also keep track of the daily word count on my current work in progress, which encourages me with the sense that I'm accomplishing something, however slowly.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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