Launched into Eternity

For my grandmother, may she be with the angels she believed in…

***

There is a great precipice not far down the road. An open chasm that seems to go down for an eternity. All along this route you’ve wondered how you got to this point. How many roads did you take to lead you here? How many did you ignore that would have taken you away from this point? Or perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered. There are some who believe in predestination; the idea that no matter what we do or say or conceive of, we are doomed for a set course that cannot be deviated from. You wonder if there was ever a choice at all.

You walk along the dirt road. The sun is right over your head with no cover of a cloud. You feel sweat dripping down your forehead. The bead runs down your nose and gathers at its tip before dripping off. Your clothes cling to your form, they feel like they’ve melted into your skin. You’ve heard it said that the desert is a dry, empty place devoid of life and that it brings death to all that traverse it. But along this road, that hasn’t been your experience. Rattlers sing in the moonlight and cacti jump to the beat of your steps. Owls burrow in old trees and lizards and scorpions take flight across the arid landscape. This is their home, they can all survive here, and as a human, you can adapt and find beauty in an otherwise ugly atmosphere.

You thought you’d be there by now. It didn’t seem that far off when you started walking but there are still miles to go. You didn’t think it would take this long and you begin to feel tired. You’re ready, but still your feet carry you on. Your shoulders droop with the setting sun and you start to stumble, kicking rocks and nearly falling. You begin to wonder if you want to reach the end or not. Is it even your choice? Finally, with the setting sun behind you, you peer over the edge and suddenly you’re afraid.

What you thought was a void of nothingness is the galaxy peering back at you. The stars above your head match the ones you see below you, but so much closer. They shine with a thousand different colors that you’ve never even heard of. You think you can hear them sing. You’re no longer tired but you’re still unsure. Is this your doom, or your salvation? For a long time, you stare into the depths, and think of all that you’re leaving behind.

In truth, your decision had been made long ago, and by a force stronger than you. It’s not something you can run from, and it’s not something you should run from. Everything has its time and its place. It ceases to matter. You’ll do what you have to whether you want to or not, but it’s ok. You’re not worried, or afraid anymore. It’s time.

You jump.

Book Review: A Possible Life

Title: A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts

Author: Sebastian Faulks

First, the title and tagline is misleading. This is not a novel in five parts and the characters are not linked across centuries. At least, no more than we ourselves are linked to all people trying to survive in this world and seek something seemingly elusive (whether that is religion, love, freedom, etc.). This book is a collection of short stories which share a theme, but ultimately can be read separately.

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with this book and it didn’t make me want to turn the pages. This is the first Sebastian Faulks book I’ve read and supposedly, he’s a talented author. He can write, certainly, but I wasn’t drawn to his characters and I wasn’t pulled into their lives. The questions raised about human connection to each other and to our situations is easily relatable. If you enjoy ordinary people searching for that “something”, you might enjoy this.

I will say that the fifth story almost made me think sloshing through the first four was worth it. Again, not anything special, but I was intrigued by the perspective Faulks chose for this particular story. It is the story of a young woman’s rise to fame told through the eyes of a secondary character. It was beautifully done.

All in all, I give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I Can’t Stay, But I Don’t Want to Go

That title. Is it a song? Or has the question of ambition vs. family become so cliché, it can’t help but be familiar?

What are the sacrifices you have made for your family? Whether it be for children or significant others? Or your parents and siblings? How much are you willing to give of yourself for other people? Is it selfish not to give everything?

How much will I miss when I’m following my dreams away from the people that matter most to me? Worse, will I miss them at all?

I’m not married. I’m not seriously involved with anyone. I have no children. What’s more is that I have no inclination to change those facts. I’m young enough still to not be asked (usually) when that will change. But I have a mother. I have brothers who are just beginning their own family. I’ll be a first time aunt come April and I am so excited and happy. I’ve been waiting years for this special addition to the family. I have a great circle of friends, some who have been in my life nearly the entirety of it.

And I plan on leaving them all behind. I am not one of those people who remains in the city (state, country) as their birth. There are things I do, and want to do in the future, that tends to take me far from home.

But a baby… he’s not my child, but she feels like it. I want to see her first steps and hear his first word. When I go, there’s so much I won’t be there for. I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back and visit as often as I’d like. In a digital age, keeping in touch shouldn’t be so difficult. With Facebook and Skype, you should be able to contact whomever you want whenever you want. But people don’t follow set schedules. They really don’t, though some try and, to a degree, succeed. The unexpected happens and it happens frequently. So frequent, one shouldn’t be surprised when they are forced to deviate from the set path.

So keeping a Skype schedule can become near impossible. For first-time parents who are slaves to their babies and for the other party, who is on the other side of the world.

I love my family and I want to be an aunt to my niece or nephew. How do I not let myself become a stranger to them?