Category: CREATIVE WRITING

How Long Have You Got?

It’s your friend Death here again for a friendly chat.

My team and I have been studying you humans for a long time. You. Are. Awesome. Really. We love to be working so closely with you and we know now why God created you all. You’re very entertaining. Never a dull moment with you guys. From inventions to families to wars to art and music, there is not much your kind hasn’t created. Truly. All of us in heaven love to see what each new day brings in the lives of our human friends.

We are mostly interested in the possibility that some of you are not maximizing your time on the Earth. But that begs the question:

How much time have you got? 

What if you only have a week? A month? A decade? What would you do with each of those? How could you ensure that you have fulfilled your purpose? Do you know what that is?

How much time have you got? 

Did you ever listen to a meditation on prioritization? @AndyPuddicombe’s Headspace app suggests that one way to prioritize is to imagine that this was your last day on earth. Is this the best use of your last day? He even says it sounds morbid. But it’s the truth. You do not know when your time is up. As I collect people’s souls and help them through from their mortal selves to their spiritual existence, many people lament their lack of accomplishment. “I ran out of time? Can I have a little more?” they ask. By the time I arrive, it’s too late.

How much time have you got? 

What if you knew? What would you do? Would you finish your symphony? Your painting? Your education? Be a dancer? Take the architecture course you always wanted to take? What? So, let’s say you can find out how much time you have. That won’t be done until the Deathlist is released from Heaven. It will be coming in the next few years. And. You. Will. Know.

What will you do with the time? And, will you believe it? Is the Deathlist right? Will it tell your exact death date? IF it’s wrong, (it’s not) you will have some extra time. If it’s right, you’ll feel like you should have believed it and done what God put you here to do. SO… long way of saying…

Make the most of the time while you’re here. Because for not, You don’t know how much time you’ve got. But you will soon.

Read The Deathlist, by my friend Kathryn Atkins, and you’ll know all about it.

 

 

 

I Am So Done

I Am So Done

So’s you’ll know. I didn’t sign up to be Death.

I have NO idea how I was given this crazy job. Seriously. Beyond that, I don’t remember growing up. I don’t remember who my parents are or were. AND, I never applied for this stupid job. Who would?

Here’s the thing. We, that is my team and I, have to attend every human death. Every single one. It’s just the way it’s set up. So, we are not the ones who do the killing. NOR do we arrange it or plan it in any way. I simply help people who are slipping from one plane to the next. From conscious life to the next one. It’s all very meta, but everyone goes through it. Our job is to smooth the way. Make it easier. Help the transition. We listen. A lot. It’s supposed to be a lovely experience. We try, anyway.

But, as I said. I am SO done. It’s a thankless job. I see you staring at the screen right this very minute going, “IS SHE KIDDING?” Yes. YOU. I see you. I see everyone. I’m part of that level of people where I can read minds, know people’s thoughts, and, in general, see through to the real you. THAT’s probably the scariest part. Right!? Here’s the deal though. I don’t judge anyone. It’s not my job, and I just don’t do it. I am not in charge of that.

I’m not happy precisely because we have so many people who are, well, pretty mean to me. We get it. It’s scary, but the other thing is that the circumstances are very often messy. No details are necessary. But also, we have really bad cleanups. Cruise ship accidents. Jetliner crashes. Wars. They’re awful. We get stuck with some really ugly stuff and we haven’t had vacations since human beings began.

So… I’m just telling you now. I’m done being Death. Stay tuned, because you’re not going to believe what happens next. It’s even messier. If I told you, you might not go out and buy the book about it. The book is called The Deathlist and it’s coming soon. In the meantime, check in here and you’ll learn a little bit more about how the Deathlist came to be. How I got this job, and OMG, what the devil does to muck things up. God would never have played so much golf if he knew what the devil was going to do!

When Death Walked the Earth …

When Death Walked the Earth …

… no one recognized her.

Some people thought they saw Death walking the hallways of hospitals during the COVID 19 pandemic. No. She didn’t let people see her, number one. But also, you wouldn’t recognize her. At least, not based on what you think she would look like. She is not a hag or a snaggle tooth with witch-y hair. She’s not a skeleton in a hard hat. No. Death is drop-dead gorgeous, wears designer clothes, always, and likes to work behind the scenes. Or in front of the scenes in plain sight with complete anonymity.

She does not walk anywhere. She is a being, but not. Maybe, you might have seen a well-dressed woman in a waiting room. Or you could have seen her like a shadow in an haute couture magazine. But probably not. Most people wouldn’t know that it was she. Most people think Death looks like a skeleton or some ugly dude. Isn’t it cool to know that’s not the case?

So, not only is Death beautiful, but she’s also actually on our side.  It’s probably hard to believe but Death is really trying to help us.

You’ll learn about her in The Deathlist, my speculative fiction novel coming out soon. I am excited for you to meet her.

“…I Lie Awake at Night and Ask Why Me?”

Then a voice answers, “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”

These TWO lines are a quote from Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strips. 

GOOD STUFF

I had not seen this quote. It stopped me cold because it’s my question too! In the case of Charles Schulz and me, ours were, I think, questions of the things that we had received (his gift for penning and illustrating comic strips, and mine for playing the piano by ear). Or not! Because . . .

NOT-GOOD STUFF

Not-good stuff happens to us that yields the same question— and the reasons for the query change over the decades, years, and months. Heck. “Why Me?” pops into our heads as one freakin’ instant changes the positive to the negative and back again. Whiplash? Yaasss!

THE ANSWER

The answer does not change.

The voice of, I don’t know, someone, says our name just happened to come up. We can look for all kinds of philosophical hoo-haw to explain the unexplainable. But, I think it saves a lot of time to relax into the idea of chance, luck, Karma, or serendipity. Call it what you will, each can be skewed to the positive or negative. And luck, change, or Karma can change on a dime.

Life just is. We don’t know why. It. Just. Is.

Let’s keep going. Let’s see what our name comes up for today.

Thirty-Four Weeks

Thirty-Four Weeks

Life Balloons

We are early by six weeks. S/he (because they chose not to find out) and I are together in this. S/he and my son and his wife. We are all together, beating hearts to give strength to this new soul. To the four souls, six souls, eight, twelve, billions of souls that contributed to make this little life a life.

Birth. It must be soon. And the struggle to live begins.

We are waiting to hear. My heart beats with the baby’s. My heart murmurs, yes! Yes. YES. You can do this.

It will be stronger, we’d like to say. We will be stronger, ‘they’ say.

But dang!

Just yesterday, we did not know of this. Today we do. Today, we have a new reality. Thinks change. Then, they change again. We never know when we wake up in the morning what the day has for us. Today, it wants prayer. Beating heart prayer.

Be strong, little one.
Bring in your best self,
New as you are,
For your mom and dad.
We’re all here to help you
Be well.
Be.

The Old-Fashioned Way

The Old-Fashioned Way

 

I envied her.

She didn’t own a computer. She had a cell phone for three months but never used it. She told her kids to take it back. She had time to read and do crafts, take long walks, and lunch with friends. She attended live lectures, went to the library, enjoyed museums, picnics at the park, and face-to-face conversations with her grandchildren, who squirmed much of the time, unused to talking without a keyboard and a computer screen as part of the interaction. And she could see the kids’ expressions, touch their knees or hands, and help them understand social interplay the old-fashioned way.

Mrs. Manfred writes notes to people, does her banking inside the bank, visits friends, and has the bridge club at her house once a month. The book club is on the third Thursday of the month, bridge club on the second Tuesday, and baby quilters on the fourth Friday. Mrs.M. volunteers at the local hospital, stuffing envelopes and helping the cooks put little white cups on the trays for the patients. She wears a hairnet, gloves, and an apron for this job. The apron comes down to the floor, and the extra small gloves hang off her tiny hands like a four-year-old dressing up in her mom’s clothes. The hairnet is a big blue surgical hat of which the hospital purchased at a huge discount in the tens of thousands, making Mrs. M. look like a cross between a blue mushroom and a midget chef. Her hair pokes out from under the blue hat, clown style.

She laughed easily. She had a razor-sharp mind and a heart of expanding elasticity, especially for children. Her favorite volunteer work was reading to kids in hospitals, schools, churches, and libraries.

However, it was not only becoming a lost art, but the ‘safety laws required that she wear a badge, get fingerprinted, TB tested, and background checked all so she could have an “aide” in the room while she read to the kids. Mrs. M. cried at the thought of it.

“All I want to do is entertain and teach the children,” she said. The laws had changed, the world had changed, the people had changed. It became too much of a hassle for her, and eventually, she had to cut back because they couldn’t find the “aide” person. In fact, when she gave up driving for Lent one year, her daughter couldn’t get her to the hospitals, and she had to stop forever.

She was forced into a retirement home—what a loss for everyone — for the kids and Mrs. M.’s wonderfully abundant heart.

One day, when cell phones stopped working, the internet coughed and passed out for a 24-hour period. Mrs. Manfred’s life did not change at all, except the people in the retirement home came down to the central meeting room in a trickle at first and then in a steady stream. Finally, they arrived in a torrent, and the room was awash in blue hairs so that the chattering and laughing brought life back into the home that usually served as the waiting area for an appointment with Death.

New acquaintances became fast friends.

Alas, the internet came back on the next dayand Death and her friend Depression resumed their march. The spell was broken, and Mrs. M. cried until she decided to read to her friends in the old folks’ home –knee to knee, the old-fashioned way.

Smiles all around. Life was good.

If I’m Being Honest

If I’m Being Honest

If I’m being honest, I’m checking my authentic truth for falsehoods.

“Really? Is that REALLY true?”

Women Who Run With the Wolves author Clarissa Pinkola Estés says we must turn to art to find our true selves. Find silence. Be somehow willing to acknowledge a higher power.

If I’m being honest, I don’t know what to call the higher power. I think there’s one. I pray to them sometimes. But I’m still on the fence about “God” with that name. It could be anything. Here’s what. I believe we humans are more than an evolutionary fluke. A Charles Darwin leap from an ape to a person. Nope. There’s something or someone. I believe that.

If I’m being honest, I am absolutely sure I have been specially blessed with more than my fair share of REALLY cool stuff. I am grateful for all of it. I wonder when the “shoe” is going to fall. But then maybe I’ll not bring it on by asking too many questions.

If I’m being honest, I absolutely know that there are few accidents. It’s all pretty much planned. All of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I am often good, sometimes bad, and unfortunately, plain ugly from time to time. And yet, if I’m being honest, I try to catch myself and get better. That’s all we can ask for, because, well, we’re lucky to be here, maybe being ugly, and still having people who love us even so.

If I’m being honest, I’m trying to be objective about the things I say and do. It takes stillness. And the willingness to work hard to change the things you see that, if you’re being REALLY honest, are REALLY bad. Those are hard times.

Evolving Language Speechless

Evolving Language Speechless

 

Out of the thoughtless earth, Words struggle to grow through the sludge-mud to where Pooled Rain Water is shoved sideways by Wind. Teenage frogs wink at each other as their tadpole brothers and sisters look up hoping to see their older selves with legs if all goes well and a smarmy hungry Snake Snot doesn’t eat them in one gulp. Mom and Dad Frog do not croak a warning. They are too tired.

Besides, Words stuck in muck behind a root truck never exit Mom and Dad’s Froggie Mouths. Señor snake licks his lips, wishing for arms to rub his bulging tadpole-bump tummy.

I hope to keep my Mom and Dad self from warning me. For if I am swallowed whole, I will see darkness and know that I can escape and make new words. Evolved language. Or at least overreach my croakings in new ways.

 

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