Thursday, January 14, 2021

Perfect Does Not Exist

By Cheryl Oreglia

What happens when the world changes, when the things we were counting on, or the things we worked hard to accomplish do not happen?

Currently, our situation fits the description of a shit show, far from perfect, and way outside my wildest apocalyptic musings.

Apologies in advance for my sour mood.

People are experiencing a scarcity of food, housing, medical, and psychological wellbeing. The lack of moral leadership is not helping, it’s as if we’ve become an expansion pack for the Lord of Flies, and quite frankly some of us are behaving like lost children.

We’re still marrying, and having babies, but we’re dying alone.

Businesses are closing, supplies are running short, hospitals are at capacity.

What else could go wrong? Oh yeah, domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol, and we’ve impeached the president twice.

This has a trickle-down effect, as if a spring waterfall, and we’re drowning in the runoff.

Students who worked their butts off to get into college are studying remotely, missing the campus experience, and more importantly the networking that occurs when socializing. They are stuck at home using zoom as their primary social connection, youth suicide rates have doubled in the last year, along with seniors.

This has been a depressing year.

Authors are publishing books and forgoing the book tours, marketing conferences, and interviews. Not so bad but if you spent ten years writing and perfecting a novel it’s not the best of times.

My world is currently incompatible with the skill set I have depended on for most of my life.

I was taught from a very young age to follow the steps and the outcome will be close, if not exactly, what I expect. Right?

Study and you’ll pass your courses, graduate and you get a job, save your money for a rainy day, work out and you’ll get stronger, eat less and you lose weight, work hard and you’ll prosper.

But nothing and no one could have prepared us for a world-wide pandemic, months of quarantine, not to mention the political and social unrest that is currently monopolizing our country. The waters are stirred up, it’s murky as hell, and it doesn’t appear to be settling anytime soon. But remember, beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences says Matshona Dhliwayo.

So what the hell do we do now?

These are unprecedented times in the history of the world. If we don’t write about it who will? Every country on the planet has been infected, lost elders, jobs, and their sense of security. We’re slowly forgetting what it was like to live “normally,” and worse, we’re becoming accustomed to extremely restrictive environments.

That’s just bullshit.

This is not our demise, this is our opportunity to document a historical phenomenon flashing before our screens, from our own unique perspective, because no one else in the world can tell this story the way you can.

For writers, quarantine is actually a rare occasion that offers unmitigated time to write, think, and ponder without undue distractions, obligations, or interruptions. I agree Netflix is probably part of a Russian agenda to keep us docile and tame, but we’re better than this, at least I once was.

Hello, I’ve been whining about my lack of time, congested schedule, unexpected intrusions forever. Since the first, second, and third lockdown I have cooked hundreds of meals, spent thousands of hours on Zoom calls, and watched more television in ten months than my entire life put together, and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve worn my pajamas for most of these high-level activities. “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t,” says Rikki Rogers.

What I haven’t done is write about it.

The sad thing is creativity doesn’t repeat itself, it can’t, says Seth Godin. This period in time might be our greatest opportunity along with our worst nightmare, but no one will read our stories if we don’t turn off the television, and write. Yes, I’m talking to myself, just ignore that part, I'm such a sloth. 

This is our work. It’s not for everyone but it will serve someone, it will change something, and it has the potential to make things better. Read that again.

The creative journey takes practice, it follows a distinct pattern, pandemic or not. I have to sit down, and write every day, whether I want to or not. I have to post my work and find an audience who wants to read what I have to offer. They are not going to come to me. 

It’s not easy, most things of value are not, in fact, it might be the most vulnerable thing you’ll ever do. Expose your fears, failures, frivolity, but trust me, no one wants to compare themselves with perfect, let your flaws shine. This is what gives us hope.

Write until our fingers fail, this is our covenant, and this is what I remind myself of when I’m sitting in the same sweats for a week, eating cold chicken with my fingers, hydrating with endless cups of coffee.

My mantra, “I will not watch reruns of The Office.” Repeat.

Remember that show, Walking Dead, it’s become a reality of sorts.

There are plenty of Walking Dead out there, this is our audience, and what we have might be the only source of hope available. Never doubt yourself, I’ve used that as an excuse, but it’s really a defense mechanism against failure. Yes, I’m talking to myself again, I write to figure things out, my thoughts flying around like kamikazes until they land on the page.

What happens when the world changes, when the things we were counting on, or the things we worked hard to accomplish do not happen?

Change your definition of happiness, or better yet, “stop living someone else’s definition of happiness and start living your own,” says David Paul Vosburg.

Our current view of the world might not be perfect because that does not exist.

How are you holding up? What are you currently writing about? Any survival secrets? 

When I’m not writing for Across the Board, I’m Living in the Gap, drop in anytime.

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