PASSING

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I passed this mouse on the beach—mouse?— half-covered by blown sand.

There is a novel by Nella Larson called Passing, which includes racial passing by a character. There are other sorts of passing. Passing by, passing judgement, passing the mashed potatoes. A running dog passing another is called a go-by and it’s a good thing. Passing over, we die.

Years pass too, time passes. But not really. We are only here from instant to instant, only really here. Life is not a train headed in a particular direction and we are not riding a carrousel in circles. We are here, looking ahead at what we hope or fear might be coming, basing our predictions on what we remember has already happened.

Today is my birthday. I am 66. We have already established that I am not any number of “years young.” But back in May, I decided to track my daily activities. Looking forward, I thought I should plan more decisively for writing and reading and walking and eating, taking the medication for my thinning bone, and drinking enough water, limiting alcohol—all the things my mother would tell me to do if she were alive, even while she failed to follow her own good advice.

A new post on the Brevity blog urges us to consider how easily we are distracted, not just by the distractions of phone calls and tweets, but by the time required to process and recover from them. Set priorities, set goals.

Most of the project goals I established in January and June are coming along. I lost fifteen pounds and I am walking an hour a day. I have seen my writing published eight times this year, which is fortune as much as effort. The only control I have over publication is submitting my work. Mostly I submit—terrible term—to journals that publish a tiny fraction of the work they receive. They might print a dozen stories in a year and reject ten thousand. Just yesterday I earned my 100th rejection for my writing, and it was, in fact, a writing goal for the year, one I could control by submitting my work many times. Score one for me! I passed my 52-book reading goal for the year too. I have a story that might become a novel next month during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In that story nearly all visible life on earth other than plants and insects dies. One woman is left alone wondering how she deserved to survive and was it punishment for something she doesn’t know she did? Too much time passes for her.

The Washington Post warns about an massive drop in insect life and the birds and reptiles that eat them on pristine tropical islands. Is it the result of climate change which impacts insects much more dramatically than I supposed? Or is this the result of the use of pesticides and defoliants? Some Devil’s Triangle of threats? Researchers can’t explain it, but they’re worried. So maybe I have my prophetic story backwards?

Or perhaps what I was told about Australian people is true, that they see humanity as forever facing the past, walking backwards into whatever unknown comes next.

I am merely passing by.

 

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