Be

To the left of the back door onto the patio is a black widow’s residence. She builds her web every night.

To the left of the back door, leaning against the wall on the patio, is our broom. Every morning, I take the broom and knock down the black widow’s web.

Last night, I went out to call a cat. Turning on the light, I saw the black widow feasting on an insect in her web.

I thought about knocking the web down, but I reconsidered. Who am I to insert myself into this process that is the foundation of nature?

I fear the black widow and her bite. I doubt she thinks about me. Regardless, this is part of our life cycle. I can’t let fear of her direct my actions. No, I’m not comfortable with it, but should my comfort decide my actions?

I let her web be.

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Afraid

I’m not afraid of anything but everything.

As long as there’s not anything, I’m not afraid of nothing.

What Path?

I was happily typing along, following a well-defined path, sure I knew its curves and destination. Then, suddenly, the muse and character said, “Turn right here, on this path.”

Thinking my headlights flashed illumination on the sketchiest of paths through the grass between some big friggin’ dark trees, I made the turn, even though I was asking them, “Are you sure? Where are you taking me?”

“Trust me,” the muse replied.

That sentence knotted my stomach. Leaning forward and peering through the darkness as we bumped along, I turned on the wipers and windshield cleaner to clear off the windshield so I could see better. The wipers smeared the dirt across the windshield instead of taking it off, making it harder to see where we were going. I did have an idea of the direction (I’m not that stupid). But, oh, man, didn’t the muse realize that was going to make the novel longer, and take more time to finish?

“Damn it, are we absolutely sure we want to take this path?” I said.

“Yes,” the muse said.

“But the complications. You and the rest of the muses, and the characters all know where we’re going and what’s going on, but I’m not so certain.” My whining tone made me cringe.

“That’s okay,” the muse said.

“But don’t you see? That means that I’ll need to stop and think about it.”

“You always want to over-analyze everything.”

“Maybe, but it’s my name on the book. I believe I have a right to know what I’m writing.”

The muse scoffed. “The name on the book is a material matter that has nothing to do with its contents.”

“The author is immaterial?”

“Yes. The contents — the story being told — is what’s important.”

“Well, okay, I agree, but still — ”

“Yes, go do your walking and thinking. Do what you must do. We’ll be here, waiting for you to start typing okay. Only remember, the more you stall by thinking it over, the more there will be for you to type when you resume. You’ll be behind.”

As I absorbed that, the muse laughed. “You didn’t think the story stopped just because you stopped, did you?”

The muse was right. That hurt and dismayed me, partly because he seemed to mocking me. It also irritated me because the muse is always right, but the way that they guide me, it often feels like I’m being ambushed. I feel like, just when I’m catching up, one of the muses pull something like this.

Well, screw the muse, I’m hungry. With that as my excuse, it’s time to stop writing like crazy.

 

Fitbit Holding

I’ve leveled out on my Fitbit activities and achievements. I’m averaging almost nine miles a day and twenty-three flights, which is where I’ve been for a while.

I’ve settled into this, but I looked at the whys and wherefores behind this leveling.

Weather (and smoke). We’re into summer. I love the weather, except, you know, it gets a little hot. This year is more comfortable in Ashland. We’re cruising along between the mid-eighties and the mid-nineties. Temperatures usually drop below sixty at night, so it gets cool. However, walking during the day is still a sweaty endeavor. I stay well-hydrated and push myself on some days, but after achieving ten miles, I think, “Again?” Then I permit myself to back off (see #3).

Smoke is also a factor. We’ve been fortunate this year in Ashland this year. Smoke from only one wildfire blanketed us for a few days. Last year, it was worse, with fires all around us smothering the valley. I toughed it out on many days, wearing masks when the pollution levels became a health hazard. This year, I asked, why? What am I proving, and to whom am I proving it? So when the smoke was demoralizing thick earlier this month, I curtailed walking outside and did other activities.

In all of this, I’ll share my inherent liability (for this) that I don’t like exercising at the gym. I’ve never gotten into that scene. My wife loves it, and that’s good for her. But being a stereotypical reclusive writer, I don’t go to the gym. When I was in the military, I ran a few miles a week, and played racquetball and handball three or four times a week. Once I went through a hernia and blew out a knee at the end of my military career, forcing me to moderate activities, I stopped doing those things. The end.

Time Management. There are finite hours available. More importantly, my energy levels are finite. Wrestling with where fitness piece fits into my life puzzle required priorities.

  • Number one, my writing time.
  • Personal commitments involving my spouse.
  • Socializing with my wife and friends
  • Exercising, yardwork, reading, and everything else.

My writing time is almost sacrosanct. I put it off a lot while I was in the military and then working as a civilian so that we could pay the bills. Not that I quit working, I’m pursuing my dream.

That fourth one, above, is a catchall. Yardwork must be done, in my mind. Otherwise, it bothers me. Sure, I can shrug it off for one day…a week…maybe two, but then it becomes an irritation. Besides that, with the fire threats of our area, keeping weeds down and everything trimmed back is precaution.

And I like to read. I want to read. I read. Sometimes it’s a choice: do I want to read, or walk? Well, am I doing yardwork? Cleaning the house? Washing the cars? Going shopping? What can I shuffle off for another day?

I Don’t Wanna Laziness. Sometimes I just tell myself, you deserve a break, Michael. You’re writing and doing all these things. You’re sixty-two years old, retired from two careers and working on a third. Chill for a while.

Yes, it’s a rationalization. I came to grudgingly accept it. Number one, I grew up believing you are your clean house, your neat yard, your shiny car, and your job and appearance. That’s how I was socialized. Those of you who grew up in America in the last century probably know what I’m talking about. Now I know that, no, all those things are mostly superficial. As with a lot of living and activities, there’s a balance to be found and kept.

Part of my rationalization was also recognition that I was getting a little obsessive about my Fitbit activities, trying to push myself to higher and higher levels to the detriment of other activities. I’d tell myself, you did sixty-five miles this week; do sixty-six next week. I also realized that house-cleaning, yardwork, and other chores are perpetual, never-ending activities. Cut the grass this week, and you’ll need to cut it again two weeks later. Vacuum now, and the floor will have things on it again tomorrow after people and cats go through the house (especially cats!).

So it goes.

Superfloofuity

Superfloofuity (catfinition) – immoderate indulgence in felines; excessive decoration or obsession with cats.

In use: “By 2015, two million videos featuring cats were posted on YouTube. With each averaging over twelve thousand hits, the numbers make the case for the Internet becoming superfloofuity.”

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Perhaps I am mired in the past. I ended up thinking of my time at Clark AB in the Philippines as I walked yesterday in 1976, and recalled my buddy, Bopie. He and I worked at the same place. I arrived about two weeks after him. We lived in the same barracks (dorm, in Air Force terminology), on the same floor. He was about seven doors down from me.

The first time I really met him, though, was when we were off-duty at a unit function. He was wearing a red tee-shirt. On the back, in yellow letters, was Bopie. Walking up behind him, I said it. Starting, he turned and looked at me with a short laugh. “You are the first person that ever said my name right the first time.” His name was Ray, but Bopie was the name he liked to use (that was never explained to me).

We were shift workers, and often shared time off, so we would run around together sometimes. He introduced me to a lot of music and comedy that I didn’t know, including the movie, Car Wash, featuring the song, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce.

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