There are very few things in this world that are permanent. We certainly are not, words can be remembered but are oft forgotten. Even those we've remembered or reinterpreted over thousands of years.
Our lives are short, our feats are few and those that are great remain for a short while. However, our attention spans are fleeting as are our convictions.
While all of this sounds fatalist, conclusive to a point of "what is, what will be and who cares?" These statements are more of a warning about who we are and what goes on around us. (tl;dr***)
This past week has been a very strange one indeed. Both great and awful. I and my variably connected circle of friends, throughout the East coast, lost people who were close to us. I lost a very good friend in Daniel Taraschke, "Danny T" to most, or "Big Danny T" among those in the convention circuit. To me he was just "Dan" or the "Big guy." Many of those same friends also lost another person. Someone I did not know well whose name escapes me. My good friend Diane Spyridon lost her wonderful father. My good friend and colleague Albert Basulto lost a friend, similarly to how Dan passed, heart failure. Robert Aldrich said it best in the wake of these losses.
"I say with no sarcasm, Death has been busy this weekend. Tragedy abounds."
I just finished my weekly meeting with Robert about our projects, our books, and the next steps for our publishing company; which is working hard to make a better name for itself. After speaking with him, I have to consider the good things that have also occurred this week. Robert's father who was, earlier this year, (unjustly) incarcerated for a long period of time is home as of this week. Bringing cause to celebrate. I won a literary award for my book. I took home another service award for guest speaking at an SFWA meeting. Sabrina appeared on Deco Drive on WSVN 7 (again!) and she killed it! She was awesome! My kids came home with straight A's and my daughter is among the highest in readership in the country. She just passed her 200th book since last January and is reading 2+ years ahead of her grade. Forget the curriculum she's reading normal novels now. If she isn't doing homework or playing with her sister or little friends at a park, she's reading a new book. She even got an autographed copy of Towering from Alex Flinn this past weekend at my SFWA meeting. I was offered producing and editing positions at other studios for in-house production work, and one of the pilot television series I'm working on just went live into its crowd funding campaign. There is a lot to celebrate, but it's hard to do when you've lost people or when tragic events take hold of your time.
We can dwell on loss or we can celebrate life and do with it what we can. All of us at one point or another have events. Events we can perceive as earth shattering, failures, struggles, losses; important enough to allocate (waste) much of our precious time towards. Ridiculously so.
My brother got into a car accident today. He irresponsibly took an improper left turn and ended up getting struck by an oncoming vehicle. Destroying most of his car (his first, a pretty convertible) that he's had for roughly a month and could have been far more devastated, had the event transpired differently. Thankfully, he walked away unscathed. Not even a scratch from what I am led to understand from my father-in-law.
I have another good friend getting chemotherapy this very moment in the hospital. Going through Cancer for the second time. But after visiting him (after writing this piece), he's in excellent spirits and looking healthier.
I can go on, it can almost feel like a horror show but in the end - not the finality of the end, but the figure of speech - we can understand that living in the now and taking heed of who we are is tantamount to what we have and what we want.
A wonderful Philosophy Professor once tried to prove a point about life by asking his students if a large jar, full of golf balls was full...The students all agreed it was. As all the balls reached the top of the jar.
The Professor then poured into the jar small beads, pebble-like stones, which quickly filled up the small spaces between the golf balls as he slowly shook and tapped the jar while pouring them in.
He again asked his students if the jar was then full, much to their immediate agreement that it was. He then filled the jar with sand. Which filled up the far smaller spaces between the beads and the golf balls. Again repeating his question, and again gaining the same unanimous agreement.
Finally, the professor filled the jar with a pint of beer, that filled up the rest of the spaces. The students realizing now that this was indeed a full jar started to understand what the professor was trying to say and how this jar was like their lives.
The Golf Balls were representative of their family, their children, their health, friends and the things they loved in life most (their passions)...
If someone lost everything in their jar, except the golf balls, that life would still be full of wonderful things and they would be alright.
The beads were other important things of note in life. Ones home, job, major investments like a car(s).
The sand represented most everything else. But if you were to have filled this real jar with your proverbial "everything else" first, before the golf balls or the beads, you would be bereft of the most important things in life because there would be no room for anything else. If you sweat the small stuff you'll never have room or time for the bigger more necessary things in your life.
The Beer, the professor explained, no matter how full your life is, you'll always have time for a beer with a friend.
I was very fortunate to have that beer with my friend Dan on my birthday. We also had a freshly hand rolled cigar to boot. I don't know what many of you are going through. I can't possibly know or understand as those feelings and emotions are usually personal and unshared. Possibly one of the reasons they burst out much harder for some. Because they're hidden deep inside.
For me the solution to despair is a simple one if not an odd analogy. I'm a shark...I move forward or I die. I think many of us are more like sharks than we realize. When something stunts our forward progress we get stuck. Some of us may even die or suffer like we're dying, because we don't know what to do. I eat or kill what's stunting my progress and keep moving forward, in rare occassions if I see the problem coming I swim around it, avoiding it...I know, sounds harsh, but if you know me, even in small doses, you'd understand. For me this means nothing ever holds me back and regardless of failure or great loss, I pull myself together and keep going forward.
Take inventory of your life and of the wonderful things around us. Ignore all of those things, if not people, who belch aggressively toward you negative situations, emanating foulness into your life.
The grandest of all fatalistic concepts is that we don't matter, we're specks of dust on a speck of dust surrounded by specks of dust swirling amid trillions of specks. This swirl (itself) a speck amid trillions more just like it.
Yet I like to say just because this is the harsh reality of what we are doesn't mean we don't matter to each other or can share happiness with one another.
I don't know why I felt compelled to write this blog post tonight. But I think there are many people out there who I call friend, family, or perhaps even acquaintance, that needed some words of honest encouragement from multiple points of view. Perhaps it was more therapeutic for myself than it was for anyone else and that's fine by me. Because the randomness of permanence needed to be talked about tonight, even if it was only a conversation with myself.
***tl;dr, The 'too long; didn't read' version | Hug your friends! Call those you don't get to see often and tell them what they mean to you. Hug your family. Enjoy your time with those around you. Take pleasure in the little things you do in life that make you smile. Fill your jar with amazing pebbles and sand to complete the spaces between your golf balls...Drown it in Beer! Keep all of the other junk out of your jar.