The enchanting monsters

The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination — Richard Wright

Last Friday night, looking over my outline for my current writing project (i.e. second novel), I came to the conclusion that the outline is complete. For now, that is. I say that since anything can happen from the time I resume working on the novel to the moment I believe the story is finished.

I decided awhile ago, after having written the rough draft of the novel’s first act, I needed to stop and nail down the second and third acts. I knew what I wanted but I needed to put it down on file cards to see something tangible and moved them around like building blocks. I didn’t want to start writing again until the complete blueprint was laid out in front of me.

Well, I have the blueprint. Yay. Now to steal a couple of hours (or more) a day to spend time with my characters. Preferably in full throttle. Ok, maybe not full throttle all the time. Maybe we can intersperse that with a jaunty but sorta slow run. I think we can manage that. Maybe.

Anyway, I’m excited regardless of what speed me and my boys willing be traveling. Naturally, I’m going to go through the first act again because I’ve made a slight but significant change to the main female character. That requires me going into the first act to alter a few things. And I can’t wait to see how she will pop off the screen/page once I’ve made the change. Her changes will affect my boys significantly. This is going to be interesting. And in a slightly sadistic/masochistic kind of way, it’s going to be fun.

My boys and my badass gal are more than ready to show me how they intend to roll. They’ve been so good about the fact my life has been crazy since February. Didn’t think they had this much patience for me. But they do and I’m pleased they haven’t wandered away from me. They’re sticking with me. And that says a lot.

That being said, I’m rubbing my hands together in great anticipation. They are the enchanting monsters of my imagination. And I am ready to meet them head on and run with them again.

The continuation of my adventures with them awaits.

Here goes nothing

Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want — Kristin Armstrong

In a recent post, I rattled off about the concept of doing everything, how messy doing everything can get, and how great messy can be if you don’t let it run you over.

Well, messy just got real. Messy officially kicked off last week. It’s exciting in a masochistic way and a little daunting.

Without getting into specifics, all I can say is the latest additions to my responsibilities are things I’ve done before. But they were things that had never been a part of my day job. These things, these experiences were earned through other parts of my life via past jobs, volunteerism and the joys being part of a particular community. To incorporate those experiences into my day job is something I had not anticipated on happening.

Quite frankly, I was happy to just keep them separate. Guess that’s not happening now. And based on early reactions I’ve received, there are folks who are thrilled about my evolving job. Yeah, things are going to get messy.

I will admit to being a little nervous about the new responsibilities. The handful of folks who do know about the role I will be taking on, are thrilled. They seem ready to give me the support I need and are confident that I can pull it off. Oh, boy. I have jokingly mentioned that I haven’t done anything yet, therefore there is an outside chance I might screw this up.

They laugh and tell me it’s not going to happen. Such faith.

This transition means I must be vigilant in keeping my writing life from taking a backseat to life. Fortunately, I have been finding myself more in the company of my fictional characters, my boys, when I’m away from work. Without much thought, it looks like I am turning to them to maintain the sense of groundedness and balance. I’m ironing out the details of the third act of the novel. I’m close to picking up where I left off. I’m this close to resuming the narrative of my boys’ stories. I want and need to play with them again. And the prospect of that feels better than awesome. It feels like home.

I think being at ‘home’ for a couple of hours a day would be a good start. Once I resume tapping on the keyboard again, those couple of hours will probably extend to four hours or longer, depending if it’s my day off and I get all my chores and errands squared away as quickly as possible. I’m really looking forward to it.

Not sure if I can say the same for my new responsibilities. It’s good to be a little nervous, right? It means you don’t want to royally fuck it up. Right? Anyway, I think it’s all in the preparation, prioritization and organization. So is taking a deep breath and taking that first step.

Here goes nothing.

Here’s to the oceans and new endeavours

Even if you don’t give a fuck about nature, we are destroying our own life by making this planet uninhabitable for mankind. It’s not even about saving the planet, it’s about saving ourselves — Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans 

According to Gutsch, every second breath we take is generated by the oceans. It makes sense to deduce that by continuing to pollute the oceans with plastic, marine life will continue to head towards extinction. And if the oceans become uninhabitable for marine life, then the planet becomes uninhabitable for all life.

The majority of plastic debris found in the oceans are broken bits and pieces — 1/4 of an inch or smaller — scattered over huge areas. There are five areas — which have slow-moving whirlpools or gyres — have the highest concentration of plastic, and the debris is difficult to collect and retrieve without endangering fish and other sea life. Two located in the Pacific Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean and one in the Indian Ocean.

The plastic you see floating on or near the surface is only a small sampling of the pollution the oceans hold. The majority of the plastic sinks to the ocean floor. And on top of that, the plastic that isn’t floating on the surface or burying themselves into the ocean floor, are washing up on beaches and shorelines. There is a lot that finds its way to land. Fortunately, that debris can be collected relatively easily without disrupting the surrounding area and wildlife.

Parley promotes a strategy that we should follow to help save the planet and ourselves. They call it the A.I.R. Strategy and you can read more about it here:

AVOID plastic wherever possible
INTERCEPT plastic waste
REDESIGN the plastic economy

The strategy is not unlike the one of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, the mission mantra used in local recycling programs operated by cities and towns around the world who participate in waste reduction/recycling programs.

While it’s great to think locally and act locally, I believe we need to think globally and act locally.

Now, here’s a question any good cynic worth their weight in salt would pose: Why should I care?

I hate that question, don’t you? Doesn’t matter in what situation you find yourself in, when I hear that question, I just want to bury that person six feet under. It tells me the person who asked that question is petulantly uninformed. Or just wants to be an asshole. I have my ways to dealing with assholes. Just so you know.

There is a reason Gutsch says it’s not about saving the planet, that, in fact, it’s about saving ourselves. He believes, and I tend to agree with him, the most base and basic reason humanity cares about anything at all, is self-interest.

Argue that the planet must be saved from the destructive habits on mankind, and you might get a few ears who hear your message. Argue that we all personally have something to lose by allowing the planet to die, and something to gain when we band together to fight for the planet’s survival, then the likelihood of the message spreading further than you originally thought, will be greater.

One of the biggest problems — well, it might be the biggest problem — is when one notes the different kinds of pollution we’re faced with, and must address, a person can feel overwhelmed by the situation and ask with frustration, ‘What can I do? I’m just one person.’

This is where ‘think globally, act locally’ comes into play. What you do locally can and will impact globally. Gutsch believes in collaboration. Not one person alone can fix a problem like plastics pollution. But by banding together to fight for the planet, and ultimately fight for the survival of mankind, managing the damage we’ve created and cleaning up the planet is possible.

We all know the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Let’s look at this as ‘it takes thousands of villages to save the planet’.

Everybody knows fixing the environmental damage we have inflicted on the planet won’t happen overnight. But, in a world where instant gratification is common place and expected, the commitment to a lifetime of being a true and sincere steward of the planet’s welfare doesn’t look rewarding. Not in the short term, at least.

How long has it taken humanity to damage this planet? Over a century, for sure. It’s probably longer than that. Maybe closer to two centuries, perhaps? So, how long do you think it will take to repair the damage we’ve done? Probably just as long.

Part of the problem with getting the skeptics, the cynics and the disbelievers to understand the importance of not destroying the planet, as we pursue our own self-interests, is the scale of time. For the most part, we understand time as it relates to, and within a human lifespan which isn’t all that long when you think about it. In a human lifespan, the effect we can have to the environment tends to occur slowly. It occurs so slowly that we don’t notice or give it much thought.

A few generations later, we start noticing something isn’t quite right but we still fail to roll up our sleeves to try to fix the problem. Collectively, this is humanity’s procrastination shuffle. Then it gets to the point where the problem seems so overwhelming that we end up hoping someone smart enough and bright enough will come along and give us a solution. Until then, we are either in varying degrees of denial or our heads are up our asses.

Aside from the scale of time, we’re failing to think about the accumulative effect we have on the planet. One person tosses a non-biodegradable piece of trash into the ocean, or into a river, or into a lake. What’s one piece of trash from one person? It’s nothing, right? Well, we all know it’s not ‘nothing.’ That person, along with thousands, millions of other people who unintentionally or deliberately pollute the creeks, rivers and larger bodies of water are participating in the destruction of the planet. Again, we default to thinking only in the period of our own lifetime and not necessarily thinking in a period of several lifetimes. Being unable to think beyond ourselves is one of the reasons we’re failing as stewards of this planet.

Everyone can implement the A.I.R. Strategy into their everyday lives. If you can follow the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra, you can follow the A.I.R. Strategy. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch.

If you’re wondering why the fuck I’m hyped-up about marine pollution, I would have to say it stems from me being a breast cancer survivor. I was fairly healthy when the shit hit the fan. I was also eating pretty healthy, too. The diagnosis made me tweak and fine-tune my food choices and altered my relationship with things that were considered convenience, i.e. plastic bottled water, anything that you could heat up in microwavable plastics. I won’t get into what I believe to be the external factors leading to the cancer diagnosis. Now is not the time nor the place to debate that.

When I started hearing and reading stories about how we were polluting and endangering marine life with plastics, it started niggling at me. It started small, at first. And I guess it was a slow build from there.

Hearing stories and seeing images of fish and animals, especially birds who died from ingesting plastic trash because they didn’t know they supposed to not eat it, started to weigh on me. Then I heard about the problem with microbeads that are used in facial cleansers. They’re problematic because they end up in the water and the fish end up digesting the microbeads. If that fish is a salmon, for example, we will end up ingesting the microbeads. Microbeads are made of plastic. I don’t know anyone who would willingly eat plastic. If we won’t eat plastic, why let a source of our food supply eat it?

Gutsch is right in saying that plastic is a design failure. Plastic isn’t something found in nature. It was created as a way to make life easier. To expect the Earth to take something inorganic and break it down into something organic is ludicrous and impossible. That is what is happening to the oceans, lakes and rivers. Whether we mean to or not, we’re asking the oceans to accept and process our non-biodegradable trash. And we’re slowly killing the marine life.

If the oceans die, we dieCaptain Paul Watson

I’ve placed my support behind Parley for the Oceans and their mission. World Oceans Day is June 8. I will be doing my part by participating in the Adidas X Parley Run for the Oceans. So far, there more than 51,000 people around the world who will be participating in the digital run.

The run takes place from June 5 – 11. Wherever you live, you run. The distance doesn’t matter. You can run a kilometre, you can five, ten kilometres or more. Whatever you feel like tackling. The distances are tracked by the Runtastic app. I’m not sure how many kilometres I will run by the time the week ends. I’m looking at a minimum of five. After that is anybody’s guess.

I’m pretty excited about doing the run. This kind of activism is new for me. I have lots to learn when it comes to the oceans and plastics pollution. It will be an interesting journey.

With all of this, I still have my writing life to consider and it will always take priority. Regardless, I have a feeling that nothing but good things can come from this latest endeavour.